Prisoners May Trade Get Out Of Jail Free Cards for Student IDs


I’m over at The Nudge Wink Report today talking about college tuition and prison reform. I promise the topic’s not as much of a snooze-fest as it sounds.

Originally posted on The Nudge Wink Report:

Don't do the crime if you can't...pull an all-nighter for your English 101 final. Don’t do the crime if you can’t…pull an all-nighter for your English 101 final.

Time for a pop quiz on current events, kiddies.  Which of the following statements is true?

  1. It costs a boatload of money to go to college
  2. Most Americans can’t afford to go without taking out student loans that they’ll be paying on for the rest of their natural lives and beyond
  3. It’s against the law for U.S. tax $$ to be used to pay for college tuition for criminals while in jail
  4. U.S. tax $$ will be used to pay for college for criminals while in jail
  5. All of the above

Did you choose answer # 5, “All of the above?” Good job, boys and girls!

It was recently announced that the U.S. Education Department plans to provide federal student aid so that criminals can attend college while behind bars. This would come in the form…

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And Then There Were More


Me, looking grateful.

It has been 5 years almost to the day since I started a blog.   Given how ephemeral these electronic flashes of word and image can be, that makes me an elder statesman.  Practically a blogging Methuselah.

My first post was about dropping my youngest daughter off at college.  I hadn’t figured out how to upload pictures yet and it was rather wordy.  My daughter, my sister-in-law and an anonymous stranger were the only humans to read my efforts.

A couple of months later,  bolstered by the fact that I was now a genuine writer, courtesy of having this blog, I got up the courage to approach the local paper about doing a little ditty in one of their occasional magazines.  They took the bait.  I had to pay them in the form of advertising, but still – I was published!

A couple of months after that I learned about something called Freshly Pressed when, for the first time, strangers started reading my stuff.

I’ve written almost 500 blog posts in the last 5 years, been Freshly Pressed a couple more times, and this year started writing a monthly humor column for which I am getting paid.   I’m now trying to get it syndicated.

Some blogging efforts were a riot.

  • My plot to take over WordPress.  In 2012 they featured 19 blog posts at a time on their front page as their choice for Freshly Pressed. I cooked up an elaborate scheme and enlisted 18 other bloggers to help.  We all posted with the same title at the exact same time: Better Living Through Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  Our coup failed, as takeovers often do, but it was a scream.  I can’t tell you how much fun it was working with 18 of the best bloggers working at that time or since.
  •  The Jacket writing competition, which was won (strictly on the level, by the way) by my good blogging buddy, Darla at She’s a Maineiac.
  •  Freshly Pegged, my attempt to give an airing to bloggers’ favorite posts which had NOT been selected for Freshly Pressed.  That feature is enjoying a very long hibernation, by the way, but is not dead.

Mostly I do humor, but sometimes I’m serious, especially when writing about cancer.  My feisty sister, Lib, is battling it.  Both my close friend, Jane, and my dear, dear cousin Moe have  almost reached the end of their struggles.

I have made some absolutely amazing blogging friends over the years; people I’ve never met, but care about deeply.  Many have dropped off the radar.  A couple have died, but most slipped quietly away to focus on other things.  I miss many of them.  But change is the nature of the beast.  For every blogger who turns away, thousands – nay, millions – more take their place all the time on this constantly growing platform, and I’ve had the chance to make new friends as well.

By now most of you are asking, “What’s with this trip down memory lane? Are you retiring?  Dying?  Practicing an acceptance speech in case the Pulitzer people call?”

Today I hit 15,000 subscribers.

I know there are mega-blogs out there and I’m obviously not one of them.  But this is a milestone for me.  Growth in my readership has been organic and steady.  I haven’t had a post go viral (although one keeps getting spurts of readers and I STILL can’t figure out why.)   People have merely wandered in, a few at a time, pulled up a tuffet and decided to stay.

To all of my WordPress friends, to those who stop by to read my scribblings, to those who take the time to comment, I appreciate how you’ve found a place for me in your busy lives.

And I humbly thank you from the bottom of my heart.

p.s. Since I hit Publish 5 minutes ago, it seems that 3 readers dropped me from their roles, so I don’t have 15,000 subscribers any more. Which just goes to show…something.

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A Tale Of Two Women

Hillary and Phyllis2

Former Univ of Illinois Chancellor
Phyllis Wise

Employed by governmental entity in a position of power.

Required, by law, to conduct all work-related email correspondence via employer-provided email service.

Decided that she was above that law.

Used personal email account to discuss sensitive and controversial issues about hiring, firing, and construction of a new building. As a result, emails were not available for public scrutiny.


Forced to resign. Said resignation has since been rejected and she has been  fired. Said firing has since been rescinded and she’s been rehired but demoted.

One of these things…

Former Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton

Employed by governmental entity in a position of power.

Required, by law, to conduct all work-related email correspondence via employer-provided email service.

Decided that she was above that law.

Used personal email account to discuss vital matters of national security, some of which have already been verified as classified, some possibly top secret.  As a result, emails may have been available for scrutiny by enemies of the USA.

Poised to accept the nomination of her party in the hopes of becoming the next president of the United States of America.


is not like the other.



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And The Oscar for Best Performance in a Dickens Tragedy Goes To…My Dog



Dogs are man’s best friends and devoted companions.  And if they had fingers, most of us would be wrapped around their littlest one.

Our dog, Sally, is a master manipulator.  Here’s a typical evening at home.

We live out in the country and Sally, a frisky, 3-year-old black lab, has been (pretty much) trained via electronic collar to stay within 90 feet of the house. When she wants to go outside we open the door and out she dashes.  No matter what doggy business she’s engaged in out there, however, her 6th sense alerts her if a family member heads toward the kitchen. She’s back on the deck in a flash and she wants in.  Now.

Her “let me in” routine starts with a little whimper.  It quickly escalates to DEFCON 1, a high-pitched whiny cry so pathetic a 1-year-old child would think such babyish tactics beneath him.  Anyone hearing Sally would assume we are inhumane monsters who have driven this poor animal out to freeze in a snow bank.  Never mind that it’s a balmy 75 degrees, and a mere 10 minutes earlier she was doing her, “How can keep me cruelly trapped  in this dungeon?” bit to get outside.  We go through this cycle approximately 579 times each evening.

Once back in the house, she investigates to see if, indeed, there is food to be had.  Woe to the person who is carrying.

Sally generally interprets even simple commands like “sit” and “come” as having an “if you feel like it” rider.  But let one of her humans be in possession of food and she is eager to show how well she can do “sit”, thereby earning a treat.  She does her furry statue imitation, sitting ramrod straight, right next to the knee of the person with the food.  She gets as close as caninely possible to the snack and keeps her gaze fastened with single-minded purpose on her quarry.

If sharing of said food does not begin immediately, Sally goes into her Oliver Twist routine. Her anxious, pathetic expression and tiny, snuffling whimpers say with an eloquence worthy of an Oscar, “Please sir, I want some more.”   You can practically hear the tiny violins playing!   Anyone watching would be considering calling the Humane Society right about then, because it’s obvious we do not feed the poor creature.

The starving, obedient orphan act lasts as long as the food does, and then it’s playtime. Sally retrieves one of the many bones and toys that form the minefield otherwise known as our living room floor and dumps them, one at a time, in my lap. Her favorite toy is her corduroy Kitty. She wants me to throw it, but as I frequently remind her, I do NOT approve of throwing toys in the house.

I hand Kitty to my hubby to toss.

After a few moments of this game, she plops down on her bed, head on paws and lets out a heartfelt sigh, the living picture of a bored teenager. If she could talk, she would be saying, “There’s NOTHING to DO around here. I HATE my life!”

Then a sound comes from outside.  It could be crickets chirping, the hoot of an owl or the wind in the trees.  Whatever the source, it must be investigated – she heads briskly for the door.  If we don’t immediately follow to open it (damn this lack of opposable thumbs!) she trots back to where we sit.  Then back to the door.   Back and forth she goes, pacing and panting, until one of us, driven nearly mad by the pacing, gets up and lets her out.  To clarify; I am the one who is driven mad, and Bill is the one who gets up to let her out.  He’s doggy-whipped.

Sally stays outside until the menace has been driven off or she thinks one of us might possibly be heading in the general direction of the kitchen, and then the cycle begins anew.

I’m typing this on our screen porch right now, and Sally is whining to come out here.  As soon as I open the door, she will lick my hand to say hello, walk around in a circle, and then beg to go either back in the house or outside.  We’ve gone through this routine 263 times already this evening.

Only 316 more to go.

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Are You A Wuss?


I’d like to think I’m the kind of person who would rush into a burning building to save somebody’s cat.  But when it comes to scary or gory stuff?   I’m a total wuss.

My friend Susie at Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride went to see the movie Jaws  projected onto a big screen behind a swimming pool for ultimate impact.  She said it was fun, but I’m not buying it.  I don’t care if the special effects look like a couple of 4-year-olds playing with toys in the tub by today’s standards.  I saw that movie when it first came out, and it was super-scary.  Hearing that theme song when I’m near any body of water bigger than a wading pool is enough to make me pee my pants.

Lots of people love horror films and graphic games, my own kid included.  Not me.  Once I’ve been introduced to a gruesome menace (be it alien or domestic) it is just a hop, skip and a jump for my vivid imagination to put said menace on the road leading straight to my house.

I’m a wuss; how about you?  Now there’s any easy way to tell.

Peg-co’s patented Wuss-o-Meter* gauges wussosity using a scientifically developed psychological profile.  Take this quick survey to see where you stack up.

Wuss-o-Meter* Questionnaire

I.  You hear a strange noise downstairs late at night. You:

  1. grab a baseball bat and go down to investigate.
  2. send your significant other down to investigate.
  3. send your 6-year-old child down to investigate.

II.  You find mouse-droppings in the kitchen. You:TomAndJerrywoman on stool

  1. go on the hunt, armed with enough firepower to subdue an enemy army, vowing not to rest until this rodent scourge has been eradicated.
  2. put out a mouse trap and shut the kitchen door until it has been caught.
  3. don your house slippers and do a Tom & Jerry on the nearest stool.

III.  A friend invites you to see the sequel to Mutant Axe-Murderer Zombie Apocalypse of Gore. You:

  1. say, “Great –I just got my Mutant Axe-Murderer Zombie Apocalypse of Gore super-fan costume back from the cleaners. Let’s camp out overnight to be first in line!”
  2. go and have fun, but pretend you dropped your phone during the especially gruesome parts so you have an excuse to look away.
  3. say, “Sorry, I can’t make it. I feel a cold sore coming on.”

IV.  There’s no better way to unwind at the end of a long day than by playing video-games. Your go-to favorite is:

1. Resident Evil: Deadly Silenceresidentevil




legolordoftherings2. LEGOs, The Lord Of The Rings




puttputtjoinsthecircus3. Putt-Putt Joins the Circus

V.  You overcome your fear of the original, black and white Night of The Living Dead movie, which gave you nightmares as a kid, and go see a revival showing at the Bijou. As a result, you:

  1. have a great time eating popcorn and laughing at the film, which now looks campy with its overly dramatic acting and dated special effects.
  2. have a great time but leave the nightlight on when you go to bed.
  3. pretend to have a great time, but whennightoflivingdeadwpopcornyou get home you run in, dead-bolt all the doors, nail boards on the windows, and then hide under the covers armed with an economy-size bottle of holy water. You would have hidden under the bed if you weren’t convinced that space was already occupied by formerly beloved family members who have been turned into flesh-eating undead.

Score: Add up each answer’s allotted points and check your score against the Wuss-o-Meter* handy classification guide:

  • 5- 7 points: Bad-ass. You ain’t afraid of nothing; not nobody, not no-how. This spirit is exemplified by Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games saga.
  • 8-11 points: Everyman. You’re brave enough when you have to be, but temper that with a healthy dose of caution, like Woody from Toy Story.
  • 12-15 point: Mr. Chicken.  You’re not exactly afraid of your own shadow, but you don’t trust how it always seems to be right behind you.  The poster-child for wussiness was Don Knotts in The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, who narrowly beat out The Cowardly Lion to claim the title.
I'm a 12.  How 'bout you?

I’m a 12. Mice don’t scare me.

*The Wuss-o-Meter  is another fine product from Peg-Co.’s Behavioral/Health Sciences Division, a subsidiary of Peg-o-Leg Industries. Peg-o-Leg Industries – making money any way we can.


Posted in General Ramblings, Peg-Co Catalog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 89 Comments

What Does Your Avatar Say About You?

Look, how spontaneous!

Look, how spontaneous!

Avatar noun av·a·tar \ˈa-və-ˌtär\
1:  the incarnation of a Hindu deity (as Vishnu)
2a :  an incarnation in human form
b :  an embodiment (as of a concept or philosophy) often in a person
3:  a variant phase or version of a continuing basic entity
4:  an electronic image that represents and is manipulated by a computer user

(Definition courtesy of Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

Those of us in the blogging world are most concerned with the 4th definition. Our avatar is our calling card. It represents us wherever we go in the WordPress world, and it even follows us beyond the WordPress friendly confines when we venture onto other internet sites.

When you’re out and about, visiting other blogs, a brief glance down at the avatars attached to comments tells you who’s already come to the party. You perk up when you see a friend and gravitate toward them.  Or you may be drawn to an unfamiliar face when their words lead you to investigate a possible new friend.

Your avatar is uniquely yours, and the same goes for your blog’s header. Instead of being a traveling calling card, however, it’s the welcome mat at your home.

The problem with avatars is they’re so small that you sometimes can’t make out the detail. Even if you can, you may not know what it means. We choose our avatars and headers for very specific reasons, but the significance isn’t always clear to others.  Inquiring minds want to know.

Here’s what my avatar and heading mean to me.

The avatar is a picture of me playing on a sproingy, metal sheep. It was taken when I was in Frankenmuth, Michigan with family about 6 years ago. We were strolling, shopping and trying to digest a huge lunch when I spotted the sheep at a kiddy playground. I had to hop aboard. This picture (carefully arranged, then selected from an exhaustive series of shots taken by a professional photographer, and then meticulously Photo Shopped), shows how fun and spontaneous I am.

I used to use a landscape photo of the Connemara region of Ireland as my header.   The beautiful austerity of the area touched my soul.   I changed it because that poetic crap isn’t funny.

My current header depicts the evolution of mankind from dumb primate to fully-upright, evolved Man.  Things went kinda downhill from there until it arrived back at me. The tag, “you say you want an evolution” is a play on words from the Beatles’ song, “Revolution.” You’ll notice the ever-present picture of me on the sheep now sports painted-on yellow hair and red shoes. This highlights the fact that I am a glamorous, (used to be) natural blond.  I also like to think of myself as having the kind of life that calls for fire-engine red, stiletto heels, even though I can usually be found in Easy Spirit Fun-timers with the Dr. Scholl’s orthotic inserts.

That’s me, now what about you?

Fellow bloggers, what does your header show? How about your avatar? If it’s a picture of you, why did you choose that particular shot?  And are you really a Hindu god?


I left my Connemara

I left my heart…in Connemara

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The 3 Most Powerful Letters In The English Language

wordsshieldWords can be powerful weapons, but one little suffix can beat them all.  Three letters provide a mighty shield for the user to hide behind.

I’m talking about “ish.”

“ish” means neither yes nor no.  It admits while admitting nothing.  It agrees while reserving the right to disagree.  It appears to condemn while allowing a backdoor escape hatch that leads straight to wholehearted approval.  This versatility is why it is a favorite screwdriver in a politician’s tool-belt.

“I did not have sex with that woman.  It was sex-ish.”

“I know there are weapons of mass destruction there.  I have proof-ish.”

“Obamacare will be better-ish for 98.9%-ish of Americans.”

“We MUST make the border secure-ish immediately-ish! “

Add this bad boy to just about any utterance and you’ve got the holy grail of political speechifying:  deniability.

“ish” is the backbone of Euphemish.

Euphemish noun \’yü-fə-mish\
      a: A language, or dialect, featuring the substitution of an agreeable or inoffensive expression for one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant.
      Synonyms: Sugarcoat, spin, mislead, lie
      Origin: from the Greek, euphēmos auspicious, sounding good.

As the world’s leading authority on Euphemish, I have done several academic treatises (otherwise known as blog posts) on the topic.  You can read more about it here, here, and here.

With “ish”, you can CYA (cover your assets) when you:

  • think something is POSSIBLY true
  • are pretty sure it’s not even REMOTELY true
  • do not want to be called out when it is revealed to epitomize the TOTAL ABSENCE OF true
  • are sure IT IS true and are even more sure that most people DON’T WANT IT TO BE true

Unleash the power of “ish” in your life.  Because in the immortal words of a very famous politician who I just made up:

They can’t nail you, if they can’t nail you down.

Charles Durning shows the art and science of doing a little sidestep in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.”

Posted in Euphemish, General Ramblings | Tagged , , , , , | 58 Comments