Friday, April 19, 2019


On June 2, 1953, Queen Elizabeth II officially took the crown after the passing of her father, King George VI. Just 25 at the time of her coronation, Elizabeth is now the longest-reigning British monarch in history. Here are more incredible facts about the 93-year-old Queen of the Commonwealth...

She was in Kenya When She Became Queen.#Copy of an actual ticket to Queen Elizabeth II's coronation ceremony in 1953. Image source: WikiCommonsAt the time of her father's passing, Elizabeth was with her new husband in Kenya. The two had made a pit stop there on their way to Australia and New Zealand and had just returned home from a night on the town when word arrived of George's death. Phillip broke the news to the new young queen, and the royal party quickly returned to London where they immediately moved into Buckingham Palace. Though her coronation ceremony wouldn't occur for several more months, Queen Elizabeth II had begun her epic reign that spans all the way to today.

She's 92-years-old and Still Has a Drink Before, During, and After Lunch Every Day.The Queen is said to be quite the fan of gin and is known to have a cocktail of gin and fortified wine (with a slice of lemon) before lunch every day. Then, she drinks wine with lunch, a martini in the afternoon, and has a glass of champagne in the evening. At 92-years-old, why not get a little loose?

Prince Phillip Isn't the Only Man Who Has Been in Her Bedroom.In 1982, a man named Michael Fagen snuck into Buckingham Palace not once, but twice in the same month. It was on his second adventure that he managed to sneak into Elizabeth's bedroom where he found her in her nightie. The original story was that the Queen kept her cool and ended up having a long conversation with Fagen before security came and apprehended him, but Fagen remembers it differently: he claims she scurried past him barefoot without saying a word. The Queen's head of security offered his resignation as a result of the break-in, but she graciously declined the offer and asked him to stay on.

She's Visited 116 of the 195 Countries on Earth.#Queen Elizabeth with President Ronald Reagan. Image source: WikiCommonsElizabeth has long been a fan of travel. She first visited the United States before she ascended to the throne while Harry Truman was President and throughout her time as queen, has gone on 256 official state visits to 116 different countries. And she's only slowed down slightly in her old age—she visited 43 new countries after turning 50 and has made recent visits to Germany, France, Ireland, and Italy. 

This story about her & President Reagan is making the rounds.  I wonder if it’s it true.

The Queen decides she wants a Kentucky thoroughbred in the royal stable, so she calls President Reagan, who decides to meet her in Lexington, Kentucky.  When they get there, they decide to go for a ride.

They're just pulling out of the barn when the Queen's horse's tail goes up and "Lbbttt!"--out comes a monstrous fart.  The Queen says, "I'm so embarrassed!!"  Reagan says, "You shouldn't be!! I thought it was the horse!!"

She Brings Her Own Toilet Paper on the Road.Despite being an experienced traveler, The Queen doesn't pack light. In addition to dozens of outfits, her own food and water, and even a personal supply of blood that matches her type, Elizabeth brings her own toilet paper wherever she goes. You can recognize it by the special seal holding each fresh roll together—only Phillip or The Queen herself are allowed to break it.

I understand that she has an employee whose sole job is to pull her chair into or out from under the dining table when she wishes to be seated or stand up.  I further understand that once, at a state dinner, she stood & then leaned forward to speak to a guest.  He had already pulled out her chair when she decided to sit down again.  He failed to read her mind & she sat down--on a chair that wasn’t there!  Her Royal Bottom (or “bum” as they say on her side of the pond) came in contact with the floor.  Bud plays these little jokes on me all the time.  Please do NOT tell me this is not true.  I like the story & will continue to believe it.

I have it on very good authority (digitaljournal.com) that her grandsons, William & Harry, once changed the outgoing message on her phone to say, “Hey, wassup?” & that they also put this message on her personal answering machine: “This is Liz.  Sorry I’m away from the throne.  For a hotline to Philip, press one.  For Charles, press two.  And for the corgis, press three.”  This is why I’m reluctant to have my grandchildren touch my cell phone.

 I thought the proper etiquette 
was to remove one’s glove first.

Glad you enjoyed it, Your Highness----fishducky


Wednesday, April 17, 2019


We will never stop carrying a torch for plants — they are way more amazing than most people give them credit for. They can hear oncoming attackers, & many send noxious chemicals into their leaves to fight back. Some even have a primitive sense of sight. So believe me when I say this: They don't like it when you pet them. According to research, they have a very strong reaction to touch.
Plants' hatred of cuddles is nothing new to scientists. In the early 1960's, for instance, scientist Frank Salisbury was studying how cocklebur plants grew by measuring their leaves with a ruler every day. Weirdly, he noticed that the plants he was measuring didn't grow as much as their neighbors & they eventually shriveled up & died. He concluded that it was simply the act of touching the plants that killed them.

A decade later, a plant physiologist named Mark Jaffe published the first work on this phenomenon & coined the first word for it: thigmomorphogenesis (in Greek, thigmo means "touch," morpho means "shape," & genesis means "origin."). Of the dozen or so plant species he used in his study, six had slowed growth after being touched daily. After a few more days of no touching, however, they resumed their regular growth rate.
In 1990, plant biochemist Dr. Janet Braam discovered that this stunted growth happened because of a genetic change. Touching a plant led to a specific handful of its genes being activated, which she named the "touch" (TCH) genes.
In December, researchers at La Trobe University in Australia took a closer look at this phenomenon to uncover exactly what was going on inside of the plant to activate these genes. For their study, the researchers used a plant called thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana), a plant that's known to pump its leaves with toxic mustard oil when insects attack.  The scientists stroked the leaves of the plants with a soft paintbrush every 12 hours, then measured their biological response at varying periods of time after each stroke.
They found that within 30 minutes of being touched, 10 percent of the plant's genome had been altered. At the site where the plants had been stroked, their mitochondria had ramped up their activation of genes known to suppress the touch response. Even more interesting, the same thing had happened at other places on the plant that hadn't been touched, though to a lesser degree. Specifically, the mitochondria altered the genome by tweaking the plant's immune system & hormone levels.
"This involves a huge expenditure of energy which is taken away from plant growth. If the touching is repeated, then plant growth is reduced by up to 30 percent," said professor Jim Whelan, the lead researcher on the study & research director of the La Trobe Institute for Agriculture & Food.
Why would this be? It makes sense for a plant to send out toxic chemicals when it feels the brush of a caterpillar since that could help convince the predator that it's not a tasty snack. But to inhibit growth after too much touching? That seems like cutting off the nose to spite the face.
But there's some logic there. For example, if plants grow too close together, they'll get less light & fewer nutrients. Growing smaller could be a way to ensure that there's enough to go around, co-author Dr. Yan Wang explained.
This new research might help farmers know exactly how far to space their plants to ensure they grow as big as possible. Knowing the genetic mechanisms at play in a plant's touch defenses might even help scientists engineer plants that aren't as touch sensitive. For that, though, they have to be careful, since it could be easy to knock out some other important senses in the process, like sensitivity to cold & heat & disease defense.
But as for houseplants, the message is clear: water them, give them sunlight, even play them music if you'd like to. But don't pet them. They don't like it when you pet them.
(curiosity.com/Ashley Hamer)


Monday, April 15, 2019


I've posted this the last several years on this date because it just seemed like the right thing to do.  I've left in the old cartoons & added a few new ones.

Thomas Paine once said something like "Give me ambiguity or give me something else".  Do you think he was referring to the tax code?

I had written a post for today but my accountant screwed up & I had to send it in to the IRS.  This one was written by Dave Barry several years ago & it's still pretty funny:

"IT'S TAX TIME. I know this because I'm staring at documents that make no sense to me, no matter how many beers I drink.

Take, for example, my Keogh Plan. If you're wondering what a Keogh Plan is, the technical answer is: Beats me. All I know is, I have one, and the people who administer it are always sending me Important Tax Information. Here's the first sentence of their most recent letter, which I swear I am not making up:
"Dear David: The IRS has extended the deadline for the restatement of your plan to comply with GUST and various other amendments until, in most instances, September 30, 2003."

I understand everything in that sentence, up to "David." After that I am lost. Apparently I have until September 30 (in most instances) to get my plan -- no, sorry, the restatement of my plan -- to comply with something (but what?) called "GUST." And of course various other amendments. But how do I do this? And what if I don't?
The letter doesn't make this clear. It does, however, say this: "You must adopt EGTRRA prior to the end of the plan year beginning in 2002." I am, frankly, reluctant to adopt anything called "EGTRRA," which sounds like the name of a giant radioactive chicken that destroys Tokyo.
The thing is, this letter isn't from the Internal Revenue Service ("We're Working to Put You in Jail!"). It's from people on my side, people who sincerely want to tell me something, probably important, about GUST and EGTRRA. But I won't even try to finish their letter.
I'll put it, with all the other tax documents that I do not understand, in a folder marked "Taxes ," and I'll mail it to a guy I know named Evan. A few weeks later he'll mail me back a tax return that I will sign and send along to the IRS without reading any part of it, except where it says "SIGN HERE."

That's right: I have no idea what my tax return says, even though I'm legally responsible for it. I just have to hope that, when Evan prepares it, he's not in a prankish mood. IRS auditor: Mr. Barry, can you explain why, on Page 27 of your return, stapled to Form 4992, "Depreciation and Amortization," is the thymus gland of an otter? Me: That's not mine! IRS auditor: Also, on Page 23, you claim, as dependents, and I quote: "The Entire Cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

I'm not the only taxpayer who has no idea what he's sending to the IRS. This year, only 28 percent of all Americans will prepare their own tax returns, according to a voice in my head that invents accurate-sounding statistics.  Why can't Americans do their own taxes? Because the federal tax code is out of control, that's why. It's gigantic and insanely complex, and it gets worse all the time. Nobody has ever read the whole thing. IRS workers are afraid to go into the same room with it. They keep it locked in the basement, and, once a day, they open the door, heave in a live taxpayer -- some poor slob who failed to adopt EGTRRA in time to comply with GUST (and various other amendments) then slam the door shut, before the screams start."

You should never lie to the IRS.  That's why my occupation is listed as "Domestic Goddess".  (True!)

Some people say that everybody should pay their taxes with a smile. I tried it but they wanted cash.

A man wrote a letter to the IRS: “I have been unable to sleep knowing that I have cheated on my income tax. I understated my taxable income and have enclosed a check for $200.00. If I still can’t sleep, I will send the rest.”

"You know, we all hate paying taxes, but the truth of the matter is without our tax money, many politicians would not be able to afford prostitutes."
-Jimmy Kimmel

"Taxation with representation ain't so hot either."
-- Gerald Barzan

"It's income tax time again, Americans: time to gather up those receipts, get out those tax forms, sharpen up that pencil, and stab yourself in the aorta."
-- Dave Barry

"Our party has been accused of fooling the public by calling tax increases 'revenue enhancement'. Not so. No one was fooled."
-- J. Danforth Quayle, V.P.
A man, called to testify at the IRS, asked his accountant for advice on what to wear. "Wear your shabbiest clothing. Let him think you are a pauper."

Then he asked his lawyer the same question, but got the opposite advice. "Do not let them intimidate you. Wear your most elegant suit and tie."

Confused, the man went to his rabbi, told him of the conflicting advice, and requested some resolution of the dilemma. "Let me tell you a story," replied the rabbi. "A woman, about to be married, asked her mother what to wear on her wedding night. 'Wear a heavy, long, flannel nightgown that goes right up to your neck.' But when she asked her best friend, she got conflicting advice. 'Wear your most sexy negligee, with a V neck right down to your navel.’”

The man protested, "What does all this have to do with my problem with the IRS?"

The rabbi said, "No matter what you wear, you're going to get screwed!!"
Dear IRS, 

Enclosed is my Tax Return & payment. Please take note of the attached article from the USA Today newspaper. In the article, you will see that the Pentagon is paying $171.50 for hammers and NASA has paid $600.00 for a toilet seat. 

Please find enclosed four toilet seats (value $2,400) and six hammers (value $1,029). This brings my total payment to $3,429.00. Please note the overpayment of $22.00 and apply it to the "Presidential Election Fund," as noted on my return. 

Might I suggest that you send the above mentioned fund a "1.5 inch screw." (See attached article...HUD paid $22.00 for a 1.5 inch Phillips Head Screw.) 

It has been a pleasure to pay my tax bill this year, and I look forward to paying it again next year. I just saw an article about the Pentagon and "screwdrivers."
From my cousin Sid:

At the end of the tax year, the Revenue Canada office sent an inspector to audit the books of a local hospital.

While the Revenue Canada agent was checking the books he turned to the CFO of the hospital and said, 

"I notice you buy a lot of bandages. What do you do with the end of the roll when there's too little left to be of any use?"

"Good question," noted the CFO. "We save them up and send them back to the bandage company and every once in a while, they send us a free roll."

"Oh," replied the auditor, somewhat disappointed that his unusual question had a practical answer.  But on he went, in his obnoxious way. 

 "What about all these plaster purchases?  What do you do with what's left over after setting a cast on a patient?"

"Ah, yes," replied the CFO, realizing that the inspector was trying to trap him with an unanswerable question.

"We save it and send it back to the manufacturer and every so often they will send us a free bag of plaster."

"I see," replied the auditor, thinking hard about how he could fluster the know-it-all CFO.

"Well," he went on, "What do you do with all the remains from circumcision surgeries?"

“Here, too, we do not waste," answered the CFO. “What we do is save all the little foreskins and send them to the Revenue Canada office, and about once a year they send us a complete prick."

You need lots of cartoons today:

The old ones:

& the new ones:

The wages of sin are death, but by the time taxes are taken out, it's just sort of a tired feeling----fishducky