Chilling Cold Quotes

by Curt Kovener

Here we are now halfway through winter. It just about six more weeks until the first day of spring. We’ve gone through a few days of negative temperatures followed by a warm up and followed yet again by another 6-8 or 10 weeks of occasional bone chilling temperatures.
I compiled this during single digits and by the time you are reading this it is no doubt warm. But, dear reader, cold temperatures will return.
So what have others said about the #$%^& cold temperatures. Here are some humorous and philosophical thoughts (the ONLY way to plow through frigid temperatures is being humorous or philosophical) of others
•“In a very cold night, even houses want to have houses of their own to enter and feel warm!”
•“In the cold dark days of the winter, dream about the flowers to get warmed up.”
•“I like the cold weather. It means you get work done.” ~Noam Chomsky
“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” ~John Steinbeck
•“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”~Edith Sitwell
•“Warm weather fosters growth: cold weather destroys it. Thus a man with an unsympathetic temperament has scant joy: but a man with a warm and friendly heart overflowing blessings, and his beneficence will extend to posterity.” ~Hung Tzu-Ch’Eng
•“One thing about cold weather: it brings out the statistician in everyone.” ~Paul Theroux
•“Scarves, mittens, and hats are a great way to express your personality in the cold weather.” ~Brad Goreski
•“In cold weather a good rule is to light your fire first before doing anything else. It is always more sensible to keep yourself warm rather than trying to thaw yourself out later.”
•“Nothing burns like the cold.” ~George R.R. Martin
•“The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house. All that cold, cold, wet day.” ~Dr. Seuss
•“The cold cuts like a many bladed knife.” ~Israel Zangwill
•“Cold? If the thermometer had been an inch longer we’d have frozen to death.” ~Mark Twain
•“I like these cold, gray winter days. Days like these let you savor a bad mood.” ~Bill Watterson
•“It was so cold I almost got married.” ~Shelly Winters
•“Shut the door not that it lets in the cold but that it lets out the coziness.” ~ Mark Twain
•“Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories.” ~Anne Bradstreet
•“If the world is cold, make it your business to build fires.” ~Horace Traubel
•It was so cold that the Statue of Liberty put the torch INSIDE her dress.”

Indiana Legislature: The Public’s Business Is Not Everybody’s Business

by Curt Kovener

The Indiana legislature, under the guise of saving money wants to eliminate telling you how government spends your money by publishing legal notices in your county newspapers. Their idea is to put the information on the internet.
And that could work except for a couple of things: information you read on the internet can be changed. A newspaper gives you a printed copy of what the government reported and it can’t be altered after you get your weekly newspaper.
Secondly, the urban dwelling state representatives who have multiple choices for high speed internet think everybody has the same high speed internet access. Some readers in Scott and Jackson County know that there are areas—all rural— that are underserved when it comes to connectivity. This is a deficiency that Gov. Eric Holcomb specifically spoke to as one of his priorities in the recent State of The State address.
When banks move to foreclose on homeowners, it initiates a legal process that includes the publication of a notice of a sheriff’s sale.
The published notice, whose cost is collected from the winning bidder at the sheriff’ run auction, serves to protect the elderly, the disabled, the uneducated, or people who are out of state, such as deployed members of the Armed Forces.
There are stories from all over the country of people who didn’t realize their property was in foreclosure until a friend or family member saw the published notice. There were cases in Florida where homes were being foreclosed on by Wells Fargo when it had no mortgages on those properties.
The published notices also increase the possible bidding pool for the foreclosed property. The idea being that more bidders mean the auction price should be higher, which serves the homeowner because the auction price is applied to his/her debt. Even after the loss of the home, the bank can still pursue the balance of the unpaid mortgage.
Publication of the names of those being foreclosed may also tip a business owner to be more cautious about extending credit to someone that he/she discovered may be suffering through a financial crisis as indicated by the foreclosure.
But Rep. Wendy McNamara, R-Evansville, has filed a bill to eliminate this publication requirement. She would replace publication in the newspaper with a posting on the sheriff’s website or county government website.
McNamara testified before the House Committee on Financial Institutions that her ultimate goal is to eliminate all publication of public notices in newspapers. That would include information about school performance, how local government units spend tax dollars, requests for zoning variances, etc.
She calls the notices “a subsidy for newspapers”.
Newspapers are paid to publish public notice advertising. Since the founding of our country, newspapers have been the most cost-effective way to disseminate information that state legislatures have deemed so important to share with citizens that they statutorily require the published public notice. The payment is for the service, not a subsidy.
Hoosiers have repeatedly in surveys indicated they want those notices published in their local newspaper. Even when told government notices can cost thousands in taxpayer dollars, 63% said they want those notices published. If you get 63% of the vote in an election, it is called a landslide.
When asked if they would be as likely to see notices posted on government websites rather than the local newspaper, a measly 4% said they’d look for this important information online.
Who would benefit specifically from the elimination of the notices of sheriff’s sale from local newspapers? The bankers and select insiders who know how to reap the bargains available when a home is foreclosed. They no longer would have to pay for the cost of publication of the ad if they win the bid and bids will likely be lower because the competition will be less since the notices posted on a sheriff’s website will not be seen by nearly as many people.
Taxpayers also lose because H.B. 1212 will require the sheriff’s office to increase resources to constantly update the website with new postings, develop a system to verify when notices were posted and not altered or taken down prematurely, and also create a system to archive notices over a three-year period. This costs money and time– two things that could be better spent on law enforcement rather than assisting banks in the foreclosure process against homeowners.
Since newspapers already have this process in place at no cost to the taxpayers through the printing of the notices and placement on newspaper websites, it begs the question as to why throw away a system that works?

Signs, Signs, Everywhere There’s Signs

by Curt Kovener

Back in the day (and I think the day was around 1971) a group of Canadian musicians called ‘Five Man Electrical Band’ charted a song named “Signs”. It was a rebellious sort of song blasting being told what to do…”do this, don’t do that. Can’t you read the signs?”
They were not singing about astrological signs or moon signs for planting.
The signs I enjoy reading these days are those changeable, thought provoking, frequently humorous observations on the human condition.
So if you have the authority over a changeable sign (or even if you do not) feel free to borrow any of these just as I did.
•I childproofed my house but my kids still get in.
•When in doubt, mumble.
•Is there ever a day that mattresses are not on sale?
•If attacked by a mob of clowns, go for the juggler.
•The first five days after a weekend are the hardest.
•Ban shredded cheese; Make America Grate Again!
•They’re not going to make yardsticks any longer.
•Practice safe eating; always use condiments.
•If you think education is costly, try ignorance.
•I checked into the Hokey Pokey Clinic & I turned myself around.
•What happens if you get scared half to death twice?
•This is my step ladder. I never knew my real ladder.
•I want to grow my own food but I can’t find bacon seeds.
•If your car is running, I’m voting for it.
•I went to the air & space museum but nothing was there.
•My wife said I never listen to her, or something like that.
•Frog parking only, all others will be toad.
•I just did a week’s worth of cardio after walking into a spider web.
•You’re the “She” to my nanigans.
•3 things that never lie: children, drunks, & Yoga pants.
•Count your blessings, not your problems.

More Anguished English

by Curt Kovener

(This is an encore column from the Curt Comments archives.)
With apologies to Mrs. Lewis, my high school English teacher.
Let’s face it. English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in a pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat.
We take English for granted but it is filled with paradoxes. We find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.
And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?
If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Park on a driveway and drive on a parkway? Have noses that run and feet that smell? Why doesn’t ‘Buick’ rhyme with ‘quick’?
How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.
English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the light is out, they are invisible.
Hopefully, Mrs. Lewis is smiling at her former student.

Nearly Hoodwinked!

by Curt Kovener

We have all read and maybe just glossed over stories of attempts by cybercriminals to spam and scam and otherwise steal our money and misuse our identity.
I read and didn’t pay much attention. Now that’s changed.
Before the holidays as I was traveling back home to the Wilderness, my cell phone rang. It was a toll-free number. Expecting it to be a scammer, spammer, or unsolicited call, I answered in order to tell the caller to put my number of their do-not-call list.
The caller said “Curt, this is Dick Flanagan and I am with security with Verizon. Did you order two new cell phones to be shipped to California?”
“Nope,” sez I.
“Well we thought it was odd for a long time Indiana customer to order phones shipped to the west coast. It appears someone has hacked into your cell phone account and ordered $2,100 worth of phones to be shipped to California,” says Dick.
“I didn’t order them so cancel that order,” I inform Dick.
“Of course, I will be glad to but I first need to make sure of your account information. What is the zip code where the bill is sent?”, helpful Dick asks.
Figuring this was all a part of the cell phone provider’s security, I told him the zip code in Crothersville.
“Good,” said Dick. “And one final thing, what is your four digit pin?”
I do not recall all of my secret passwords, pins and other identifiers and told Dick I would call him back when I got home. And at that point, the phone call abruptly dropped as I began my drive through the traditional valley of no cell signal.
When I get home, before I looked up my pin I tried to log onto my Verizon account. And it wouldn’t let me in. My password no longer worked.
It was at that point anger and terror flooded over me. I began using some very adult words as I realized I had been scammed by the Dick who said he was going to help me!
So I called Verizon and spoke with customer service representative Heather and told her what went on. She checked my account and assured me that no phones had been ordered.
That was a relief.
Then she guided me through the steps to change ID, password, PIN.
She told me the fake Verizon Dick was telling me what he was going to do after he got into my account. But sounding like a helpful security person for the company I fell for Dick’s Good Samaritan schtick.
“There is a lot of scamming like this going on over the holidays,” helpful Heather told me.
Thank rural technology for sketchy cell signal areas, I guess.
So now I have changed passwords, PINs and anything related to getting into my accounts.
But before I did I checked with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) guidance on creating a strong password, suggesting a passphrase such as a favorite line from a movie or a series of associated words rather than using a single password. The idea is to create a passphrase that can be remembered easily and protect the account. This means passwords like – “t6&j3#QR%5”- are out.
Longer, personal phrases you can remember— for example, SnowCloudWhiteCold— are preferred. The names of your children or pets are a bad idea, they say.
But since many sites require numerals, upper case and symbols or punctuation you may need to substitute a numeric zero for an O, an exclamation point for a 1, a ( for a C, and the like.
Create a passphrase you can picture in your head and use items in your office or around your home computer for clues. The key is to create a passphrase that is hard for a cybercriminal to guess but easy for you to remember with a little bit of a hint.
And we are to use a different password or passphrase for each account, and use a password manager if necessary to keep track of passwords for multiple accounts.
But having grayhair and Medicare, I keep my passwords in a document that is titled nothing like Passwords and it is securely filed beneath layers of folders on my computer desktop. And there is that hardcopy printout that I use as failsafe stored in my fireproof file cabinet.
And having saved my bacon as well as my money, I hope I never again curse the sketchy cell signal areas through which I travel.

Maybe It Wasn’t The Grinch Who First Stole Christmas

by Curt Kovener

A law was passed requiring everyone to pay a tax in his hometown. That was the law decreed over 2,000 years ago by an occupying Roman government authority. So without government involvement, Old Testament prophecy would not have been fulfilled and Jesus may not have been born in Bethlehem.
Think of that next time someone shouts government should get out of our lives.
And if conservative anti-tax politicians were alive then maybe they would have been responsible for prophesy not being fulfilled. And what if that caravan of taxpaying immigrants were crossing boarders today…what would believers do?
It could be said that government historically has been involved with religion since before Christendom. In judicial circles that is what is known as a precedent.
Much breath has been expended on what some claim is an attempt to de-Christianize Christmas. “Merry Christmas”: the seasonal greeting must not be “Happy Holidays”.
It is hard to believe in this season of love that Christians want to fight a war over the proper way, in their view, to celebrate. So much for embracing “peace on earth, goodwill toward men.”
And a Christmas tree should not be called a holiday tree, they say. I have a friend who has a small artificial tree in the corner of her family room and it gets decorated with hearts of Valentine’s Day, flags and red, white & blue festooning on Memorial Day & 4th of July; pumpkins and things that go bump in the night for Halloween, turkey and harvest ornaments at Thanksgiving and Christmas lights and ornaments in December: a true holiday tree.
Other than Old Testament prophecy and the Scriptural notation of Jesus’ birth, there is no Biblical directive to celebrate His birth. Scholars are not really sure of the date of Christ’s birth. So our December celebration is not historically nor theologically accurate.
Christmas or celebration of Christ’s Mass came about as the result of an early church takeover of the pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice. In ancient Rome, the December holiday of Saturnalia was celebrated by a time of drinking and merry making. The Druids in what is now the United Kingdom had similar celebrations using evergreen trees. They would bring evergreen conifer trees into their abode to signify the renewal of life even in the winter. Thus the insistence that “they are Christmas trees” have their beginnings in pagan religious observance.
These non-religious observances were embraced by early church leaders and eventually, over time, were cleaned & laundered to “Christianize” the observance.
So it could be said it wasn’t the Grinch that stole Christmas, it was the post crucifixion believers who, in a sense, violated the “Thou shalt not steal” commandment.
Over the centuries, history and folklore from a number of countries and cultures melded together so that today it is difficult to sort actual events from the church’s re-written history and tradition.
The early church ministry of Saint Nicholas sought to provide food to poor children. He was also the patron saint of virgins and was an intercessory to help encourage purity. (Could it be that this is where the ‘naughty and nice list’ had its origin?)
As word spread over time, other countries developed their own kind of gift-giving Saint Nicholas.
The concept that Saint Nicholas was garbed in a red suit and white fur has been modified over time from a tall, thin character to short, round with elfin characteristics. His appearance, name and paraphernalia such as sleigh and reindeer evolved over the years as writers put pen to paper.
In 1823 C. Clement Moore wrote A Visit from Saint Nicholas which we know more familiarly from its starting phrase “’Twas the night before Christmas…” Based on Moore’s literary description, the contemporary image of a rotund jolly character continued to be modified and was made internationally familiar beginning in the 1920’s through illustrator Haddon Sundblom’s annual winter advertising for Coca-Cola.
It is interesting to note that as fervently as fundamental believers today insist that nonbelievers are attempting to remove Christ from Christmas, early Hoosier Christian fundamentalists were just as fervent in their opposition to celebrating Christmas.
Since no Biblical reference was made that believers should celebrate Christmas, early Christian settlers declined to observe the day claiming if it wasn’t scriptural to celebrate Christ’s birthday, then it was secularly inspired.
How’s that for ironic holiday twists? Some Christian fundamentalists today becoming militant insisting on keeping Christ in Christmas while some of our founding Christian leaders opposed its celebration as having no scriptural basis yet centuries earlier other church leaders took a purely pagan observance and stole it to make it Christian.
I’ll leave you to meditate on that and wish you a Merry Christmas.