Twenty Tons of Flour #socs

It would take me a long time to explain the whole movie, but there’s this scene in the movie Stranger Than Fiction (which is a “must see” if you’re an author; the logline reads “An I.R.S. auditor suddenly finds himself the subject of narration only he can hear: narration that begins to affect his entire life, from his work, to his love-interest, to his death.”) where Will Ferrell (who plays the IRS auditor), smitten with Maggie Gyllenhaal (the love interest), brings her a present.

So you can imagine what I thought of immediately when I saw today’s prompt, “flower/flour.”

I’ve mentioned before on the blog that, soon after graduating from college, I took a job as a production supervisor at Newly Weds Foods. Newly Weds had started as a company that made consumer products (English muffins and the cake for ice cream cake rolls), but gradually got into the business of making coatings (breaders and batter mixes) for chicken and fish, panko-style bread crumbs (Newly Weds was one of the first companies in the US to make them), and was just getting started in the seasoning mix and capsicum businesses. In fact, they’ve now farmed out the muffin and cake businesses to smaller companies in Chicago and have plants all over the country now.

Ice Cream Cake Roll (source: Wilton.com)

I was the supervisor on the #2 Breading line, who they figured would have enough free time on his hands to handle other tasks, such as being the guy who would deal with deliveries of bulk flour. Several times a day a driver would show up with a bulk truck full of flour, and the supervisor on Line 2 would decide where the flour would go, either into one of several silos outside or into one of the four tanks inside the building, and would then be responsible for going to the flour house and hooking up a hose that went between where the driver hooked up and the appropriate tank or silo. The driver then hooked his truck up and blew the flour from his truck into the tank. Easy-peasy, right?

Right around Christmas, I was working day shift, which ran from 6 AM to 3 PM. I hadn’t been able to sleep for a couple of weeks and was popping No-Doz and washing it down with coffee to try and stay awake. I was upset because there was word that we’d have to work on Christmas, something I’m sure Jesus and Mary (my wife, not the Blessed Mother) would understand, but I’m just as sure my mother wouldn’t. A load of flour came in at 10 AM, and I hooked the truck up and gave the driver a thumbs-up.

About half an hour after that truck leaves, I’m doing a product changeover. We would be switching flour from 55 ash to 40 ash (the lower the ash content, the softer the flour), which meant I’d have a guy dumping flour into a hopper from 100 lb. bags instead of drawing from one of the tanks, which was a real pain in the ass, because it also meant I’d be on the forklift for the rest of the shift, getting pallets of flour out of the warehouse to keep my guy busy. Anyway, the changeover requires my full attention, so of course another bulk truck shows up.

I look at the bill of lading, and see that it’s the same kind of flour the last guy had brought. I knew the tank was only half-full after the last load had been delivered, and I figured everything was all set for the guy, so I told him to hook up his truck and blow when ready.

You know what happened, right? Turns out one of the other supervisors told one of his guys to sweep up the flour house, and that guy detached the hose…

I didn’t get in too much trouble, surprisingly enough. I got chewed out by my boss and the president of the company (who was a real hands-on guy), but they didn’t fire me, nor did they make me pay for the 40,000 pounds of flour (I think they were able to salvage most of it). I had learned my lesson, and when the new year arrived I started looking for a new job.


Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you each week by Linda Hill and this station. Now a word about Pepto-Bismol tablets. Quick as a wink, you’re in the pink with Pepto-Bismol tablets!

Polish Notation and Gripe, Gripe, Gripe #socs

It’s strange how the mind works sometimes. Seeing that the prompt this week was “post,” my mind went back into the archives and dragged out postfix notation, also known as reverse Polish notation. It’s a way of evaluating mathematical equations that arguably makes it more efficient for a computer to perform a calculation. If you have an equation like y=x+2, for example, you write it yx2+=. That’s all I remember about it, which is good news for you, I’m sure you’ll agree. If you had the dubious pleasure of using an HP calculator in the early days, you learned how it works.

I was going to post a second time on Wednesday about this (not RPN, but what I’m about to talk about), then figured “maybe I can work it into my Stream of Consciousness post on Saturday.” A couple of things happened Wednesday that left me … I don’t know: perplexed? Pissed off?

The first was when I got onto WordPress and was greeted with a box anouncing their new editor, Gutenberg. My first thought was “what fresh hell is this?” Evidently it’s their new and improved post editor that they claim will make writing and editing a post simpler and more intuitive. If you’ve worked with computers for any length of time, as I have, you know this means it will be more complicated and less intuitive. Nevertheless, I decided to keep an open mind about it.

The whole principle behind the new editor is blocks. When you’re writing, it’s a text block; when you want to put a picture in, you use a picture block; when you want to insert a gallery (i.e. a slideshow) there’s a block for that, as well as for a video and whatever else. They evidently forgot block quotes, but I suppose the philosophy is that they’re a text block, and since you can change the atributes of the text using the toolbars, they didn’t have to come up with a new block for that. If you’re at all familiar with object-oriented programming, you can see what they did to design it. If you aren’t familiar with OOP, don’t worry about it.

Bringing up the new editor puts you in WYSIWYG (“whizzy wig”) mode, or as they’ve called it all along, Visual mode. The screen looks a lot like the editor on mobile devices (for me, the Kindle Fire and the iPhone) or like the first attempt at this, what WordPress has been trying to get me to use for months with that message at the top of the screen that says “There’s an easier way to do this, knucklehead. Why don’tcha switched to the improved editor?” That’s actually less of an improvement than just staying with the “classic” editor, which gives you a wide box in which to type instead of a blank screen where you can’t tell where you are, but anyway…

So I start typing a post like I always have, and the helpful editor draws a box around it and tells me I’m now using a text box. I skip a line and paste in the URL from a video, and it creates me a video box. Hmm, not bad, I think to myself. So next I decide to paste in one of my badges. Now, the way I paste in my badges is that I have a note in Eveernote with all the appropriate HTML code for all the badges. I paste that in, and the silly editor thinks it’s text, so instead of getting the graphic centered nicely, I get a lot of HTML code placed in the middle of my post.

So, I have to look for the badge from all the graphics I’ve uploaded over the almost seven years this blog has been around. Fortunately, they’ve provided me with a search box where, if I know when the graphic was uploaded, I can find it. So, I find my graphic, but no way to center it in the column. Ah! But the block has a button I can hit and voila!, the graphic is centered. Hm, not bad, I say. And then the editor says “Do you want to keep this block for use later?” And I think, maybe I’ll be able to ditch the note in Evernote where I have all the code for the graphics. So I click the option, and it saves the graphic, uncentered. I try pasting the block in, and the graphic is still uncentered, an I can’t get it to center. A nit, I’m sure you’ll think, but hey, it’s my blog, I should be able to have things the way I want them.

So, I go to where they say I can go to report things like this, and it tells me I’m not signed in to their bug-reporting system. I use what I think is my signin (yes, I know it’s different from the one I use to sign in to my dashboard), and they can’t find me. So I set up a new one, putting in my user name and email address, and they come back and say they’ll send me my password. That was yesterday at 1 PM. The password still hasn’t arrived.

So I deactivated Gutenberg, and saw that they classic editor that I’ve been using for the last seven years will be available as a plugin when Gutenberg is “rolled out,” which will be at some unspecified day in the future, most likely without warning. Guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Shifting gears… I have a Mac Mini, an old video iPod, and an iPhone 8, and Mary has an iPad and my old iPhone 4, so we have a lot of Apple gear around the house. But I came into a few extra bucks thanks to a cash-back card and a new HVAC system, and Mary said, “Why don’t you get a MacBook?” The idea being that she could also use it…

So I’ve been pricing them, and I was ready to order one, but then I heard rumors from all the usual places (Kim Komando, Macworld etc.) that Apple would be announcing a new MacBook at their September product announcement meeting. This was also scheduled for Wednesday, so I decided to listen in.

That was two hours of my life I’ll never get back. Apple’s big product announcement was for the Apple Watch (I opined on that at some length here) and the iPhone X, which now comes in three different sizes and a whole bunch of new colors and has tremendous gaming potential (oh, and you can make calls with it). In the last ten minutes of the presentation, they announced iOS 12 is coming this Monday, and MacOS 10.14 (a/k/a Mojave) the week after that.

I know, bitch bitch bitch, right?


Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you each week by Linda Hill and this station. Now a word about Ajax Liquid cleanser. Cleans everything like a white tornado!

Boo Hoo! #socs

Mary and I watch reruns of Columbo every Saturday night. We know them all pretty much by just the name of the actor playing the villain, so unless the baddie is Jack Cassidy, Parick McGoohan, or Robert Culp (who each have several appearances), I just tell Mary something like “Bad guys are Hector Elizondo and Ray Milland,” and we know which ones we’ll be seeing that night. One of the episodes features Theo Bikel, who runs a club for geniuses as well as being senior partner in an accounting firm. Another senior partner of the accounting firm and member of the club is played by Sorrell Booke, who you probably recognize as the actor who played Boss Hogg on The Dukes of Hazzard. In the episode, Theo kills Sorrell (well, his character kills Sorrell’s) and tries to outsmart Columbo, who comes off as kind of a dimwit but who always ends up catching the villain.

(Before I go any further, I want to take a moment to note the passing of Burt Reynolds, who played Boss Hogg in the movie based on the TV series. He died of a heart attack on Wednesday. Condolences to his family and friends and all those who loved his work.)

Burt Reynolds, 1936-2018 (source: AllPosters.com)

The episode is notable for the rendition of Guy Lombardo’s “Boo-Hoo,” as sung by a female vocal trio. Here’s the original, from 1937, sung by a male trio, one of whom is doubtless Carmen Lombardo, Guy’s brother, who penned the song.

Whenever that paticular episode is on, the damn tune is stuck in our heads for weeks.

Likewise, the “happy birthday” song as sung by The Three Stooges.

The longer version shows why the cake blows up. The big man with the mustache is Vernon Dent, who was in most of the Three Stooges shorts.

It’s always the songs you don’t like that end up as earworms. Such as this from Sesame Street:

And then there’s this. Dad came home one day all annoyed and said one of the secretaries at work (this was a long time ago) kept singing this until he was ready to wring her neck.

There are a few more that I’m strategically blocking from my memory, at least until they turn up out of nowhere…


Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you each week by Linda Hill and this station. Now here’s Jinx Falkenberg for gas heat. Live better with gas!

Circles, Rounds, and Rounders #socs

Here’s a song about circles, which are round, courtesy of Ernie and Bert from Sesame Street.

Toward the end, they’re both singing different words to the same tune, which my father once told me is a fugue. I don’t know if that’s the correct word, but it sounds reasonable. A fugue isn’t a round, which everyone starting a song from the beginning at different times. The most frequently-used song to teach kids how to sing a round is “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”…

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream,
Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily
Life is but a dream!

The teacher usually breaks the class into three groups, which I’ll call A, B, and C. Group A starts the song, then when they reach the second line Group B starts the song, and when they in turn reach the second line Group C starts the song. This continues ad nauseum or until the bell rings.

We had slightly different lyrics:

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream,
Throw your teacher overboard
And listen to her scream!

There’s an expression in baseball that “it’s a round ball, and a round bat, and you have to hit it square.” I thought it was another Yogi-ism, but there doesn’t seem to be a consensus who started it. Ted Williams, who had no trouble hitting a round ball with a round bat squarely, is who I always heard, but other sources say Pete Rose or Willie Stargell did. Whoever said it, it’s true. Cricket players have a slightly easier time, because their bats are flat, but even then, it’s hard to hit it squarely. By the way, baseball’s roots are in the English game rounders…


Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you each week by Linda Hill and this station. Now this word from Eastern Airlines and your local travel agent.