He has no problem with “THE BEST 25 INVENTIONS OF 2017,” but sees (blurrily) the need for a 26th!

What this country is still needing

Email from Donald: “Subject: Now, where did I leave . . .

“The cover of a recent issue of Time boasted: ’THE 25 BEST INVENTIONS OF 2017.’


“The list included: a shoe engineered to boost performance; elevators that move beyond up and down; guilt-free ice cream; mugs that heat your coffee just right; glasses that give sight to the blind; stronger, safer football helmets (available for the 2018 season at $1,500 each).

“All well and good, but what I really need was not on the list: a device to help me locate my glasses!

“Maybe 2018 will provide a breakthrough.”

Those darned capitalists
Or: What this country has been needing (responsorial)

Gregory of the North:Kathy S.’s posting about the wearable chair [BB, 12/5/2017] . . .

“. . . made me think about one of the relatively recent innovations for those of us in the physically handicapped community. The VA has an exoskeleton in their physical-therapy department that looks something like the video that Kathy S. submitted. I don’t have a video, but I am attaching an article about exoskeletons for paralyzed folks. I’ve seen people use it, and it is quite the amazing sight — although, I have to admit, it sometime reminds me bit of the old ‘Terminator’ movies.

“In looking for something on the handicap exoskeleton, I discovered that A.B.’s (‘Able-Bodieds’ — it’s what those of us who use a wheelchair call you folks who can walk around freely under your own power) also are using exoskeletons for strength enhancement and to prevent repetitive-motion injuries. Isn’t it fascinating how technology develops?

“Here is the article: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/546276/this-40000-robotic-exoskeleton-lets-the-paralyzed-walk/.”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: And here is a video:

‘Tis the season!
Plus: Our theater of seasons

Grandma Paula: “The temperatures were so mild on Monday, I was able to get my outside Christmas decorating all done. Yay! I found just the right-size tree at a store, and I was able to use my chain saw to saw a fresh cut on the trunk.


“I ‘planted’ the tree in a pot of dirt, and wonder of wonders, all of the lights worked!


“I won! Just for that day, anyway.


“Tuesday, winter had arrived.😞”

And now Retired Teacher of New Richmond, Wisconsin: “The snowfall Monday night added a beautiful dimension to the holiday lights.”


‘Tis the season!
Christmas Memories Division

The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “My childhood Christmas memories resemble a Frank Capra movie set. The entire Christmas season always seemed so special in those years when we lived in the city. The vendors still delivered their wares by horse and cart, and every day the milkman and bread man seemed to be heralding Santa’s arrival with the sound of the clomping of their horses coming down the street. The lampposts on the main streets were decorated with red- and green-tinseled Christmas decorations shaped like candy canes or wreaths, and there were Christmas trees for sale on many street corners.

“Our Christmas tree went up early — sometimes too early, because more than once there seemed to be more ornaments than needles left on it by Christmas Eve. We had our own style of tree decorating. After all the lights and ornaments were on, we would each grab a handful of tinsel, back up as far away from the tree as space permitted, and run pell-mell as we flung the gob of tinsel onto the branches. My parents had only one rule: The lights could not be plugged in until Christmas Eve, and you know what? No matter how god-awful that tree was decorated, when you walked into that magical room with only the glow of the multicolored lights glistening on the heaping Christmas gifts, Daddy was right, it was Bee-Yoo-tiful!

“Mother filled colorful little cardboard boxes with hard Christmas candy to hand out to visitors who came by during the Christmas season. She put a piece of chocolate in the center of each box, and if there were any boxes left over after Christmas, we kids could eat the contents. When this happened, and it often did, we would dig around to retrieve the chocolate. It didn’t taste that good because it was so sweet it made your teeth hurt, but it was better than the hard candy, which had melted and stuck together after sitting on the windowsill for a month.

“Mother baked sugar cookies and sausijsjes, and eventually the 24th arrived. Aunt Ethel, Uncle Bob and Uncle Harold lived within walking distance and always spent Christmas Eve with us. As Santa’s hour of arrival neared, Mother and Daddy would send me out on a walk to see if I could spot him in the neighborhood. An uncle or my brother would accompany me on this scouting mission, and I always went with mixed feelings. I rarely went out at night, so it was exciting because the atmosphere seemed to be brimming with anticipation. The air smelled fresh and crisp, and the snow sparkled like diamonds. Christmas-tree lights shone through neighborhood windows, and the evergreen smell was everywhere in the air. Lots of happy people were out walking, and occasionally one would cheerfully call out to me: ‘Little girl, you’d better hurry home before Santa comes!’ This would send me into a panic for fear that we would miss Santa — or, worse yet, he would spot us. It always seemed to me that this was a very foolhardy mission in the first place, for if Santa Claus ever discovered that a naughty child saw him, then ‘everybody’ knew that he would not leave any toys for that snooping child. Somehow, we always made it back home in time, and whoever walked with me always announced that he had heard his sleigh bells and Santa was sure to be arriving any minute. (I guess my hearing was bad even then, because I never heard those bells.)

“As soon as the ‘scout’ and I arrived back home and gave the word that Santa was nearby, we would be rushed up the stairs to hide out in one of the bedrooms. Daddy never came upstairs with us, because he had to hide out downstairs to make sure that the door didn’t stick and prevent Santa from entering. I was convinced that no other child in the world ever enjoyed a Christmas as magical as I did. Santa always came in the house with a great slamming of doors, and his booted feet made a tremendous amount of noise as he rushed around downstairs saying a hearty Ho-Ho-Ho as he distributed the gifts under the tree.

“My brother Johnny would invariably attempt to break away and run down the stairs to catch him, but Mother always grabbed him by the shirttail and held on until we heard one last Ho-Ho before the front door slammed. I ‘almost’ saw him in 1939, when Johnny beckoned me to peek out the window to see his magnificent sleigh. He was describing it in great detail, and just as I heard the front door slam, I ran across the room to see for myself. Once again, Mother intervened and held the curtain fast so I couldn’t see out the window. I was so close, and I knew that no harm would have come of it, because he had already left the presents for us!

“When we celebrated our last Christmas in Minneapolis, our dad was helping build a defense plant in Kentucky and couldn’t get home. Johnny took over for Daddy and handed out the gifts, and Uncle Harold volunteered to handle the sticking-door duty. Santa’s footsteps and his Ho-Ho-Ho sounded different that year. Everything seemed different that last year we lived in the city, when I was 8 years old.”

Mounds View Swede writes: “My early Christmas memories include the decorating of the Christmas tree. My sister and I were allowed to help put the tinsel on. We usually put it up on a Friday night after watching the Christmas episode of ‘I Remember Mama.’ It was shown every year a week or so before Christmas.

“My sister was pleased to receive a new doll and a rocker just her size.



“We usually opened the presents on Christmas Eve, but wanted to hurry back to begin playing with things. My sister and I had the upstairs bedrooms. We tried opening the gifts on Christmas morning one year, but decided it wasn’t such a good idea. We had to have breakfast first or something. Or we were too excited to want to eat if we opened the presents first.


“Before I ever got my army toys, I got cowboy gear. Yee ha!


“‘The Lone Ranger,’ ‘Wild Bill Hickok’ and later ‘Bonanza’ and ‘Gunsmoke’ became our favorite shows to watch. Playing cowboys and Indians was our favorite outdoor play in those days. That play later morphed into my love of going to the nearby forest preserve to be in the woods and examine the ground for animal tracks and signs, like I imagined the Indians knew how to do. I held their abilities and knowledge and wisdom in high esteem. Tonto (Jay Silverheels) was a good role model for me from ‘The Lone Ranger’ — so our cowboys-and-Indians play was not adversarial in nature. As an adult, I still have those same feelings about our native population.”

‘Tis the season!

Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Lately I’ve watched too many shows about home buying and decor. But I have to say that the fancy designers create lousy Christmas trees for homes. They are incredibly matchy-matchy, and have Themes. They belong in houses where there are always plastic covers on the furniture.

“The best Christmas trees are like the Velveteen Rabbit. They develop over the years, and some ornaments are worn and diverse. There is no color scheme, except maybe Christmas colors. And no designers can manage one, because they go buy boxes of this and that, and design them all at once. Then next year you are supposed to have a totally different tree.

“My tree has ornaments from the 1970s onward, and they weren’t all designed to be on a tree. I also have some from my parents’ and grandparents’ trees. And I use small items that catch my fancy. A former boss taught me that ornaments don’t all have to come with the word ‘ornament’ on them.


“So, real folks, revolt! We have nothing to lose but fake trees!”

Immutable Laws of the Universe
Or: Our times

Tim Torkildson: “Subject: Things that aren’t going anywhere.

“Dirty dishes.

“Bill collectors.


“The garbage.


“April 15.

“That burrito from 7-Eleven.

“Your career after age 50.


“Foot odor.

“The alarm clock.

“Tedious dinner guests.

“A sinus infection.

“That funny noise when you brake.

“Your uncle’s fishing story.


“Grandkids who think your pockets are only for candy.

“Day-old sushi on sale at the supermarket.”

Joy of Juxtaposition
Including: Our community of strangers (responsorial)

Ramblin’ Rose: “Subject: Music, Music, Music.

“I chuckled when I read The Retired Pedagogue‘s J of J on hearing Nat King Cole’s ‘Ramblin’ Rose’ right after he read my posting in the December 3rd BB. I don’t need a CD to hear this; I get an earworm of that very song every time I think of submitting something to BB. It’s beautiful. The funniest part (to me) is that my BB handle has nothing to do with the song.

“I’ll just leave it at that. Sometimes mystery is the best policy.

“P.S. Re that day’s Band Name of the Day [Whipped Cream (& The Other Delights?}: ‘Whipped Cream (and Other Delights)’ was a favorite record of my dad’s, and he played it so it could be heard all over the house. He might have been especially taken by the album cover.”

What’s in a (band) name
Or: Not exactly what he had in mind

Al B of Hartland: “I once lived in Minneapolis because of family. They didn’t live in Minneapolis. They wanted me to live at least that far away from home.

“My son Brian lives in New Ulm because he wants to. We got together for a good meal at the Red Leaf Cafe, and the talk turned to music. Brian likes The Eagles, and I tend to side with The Dude, a character in the movie ‘The Big Lebowski,’ who wasn’t a big fan of that group. In an effort to claim that I appreciated musical diversity, I said I enjoyed the band named Buffalo Springsteen. I meant ‘Buffalo Springfield.’ I’d managed to combine Buffalo Springfield and Bruce Springsteen.

“I’ll have to limit my future rock conversations to The Who. That’s a name that is easy to remember.”

BULLETIN BOARD MUSES: Did you know that The Who was never the headliner, on any bill? It’s true! They were always a warmup act.

That’s why people always said: “The Who’s on first.”

Band Name of the Day: Buffalo Springsteen

Website of the Day: Raymond Chandler’s “Red Wind”


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