College was not, as it turned out, particularly useful for practical stuff. Although I learned a reasonable amount, it had a tendency to be the kind of thing that makes great conversation while playing Trivial Pursuit rather than while trying to figure out your household budget for the month.

Consider the subject of infinite sets. I am not a mathematician. I’m okay with arithmetic and I can figure out a basic, algebraic equation if you give me enough time and scratch paper … but otherwise? Unless it’s part of a computer language, I’m at a loss.

Finite versus infinite sets. Equipotent sets. Countable sets. Example!

I remember infinite sets because it was similar to trying to understand time travel.

An infinite set is any combination of numbers that has not end. There are lots and lots of them. All positive numbers, like 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 … and obviously, you can keep counting until the moon turns blue and the world is exhausted.

But what about an infinite set of all negative AND positive numbers, so that they go back forever into the minuses as well and infinitely forward into the positives. Forever and a day. With no end. That would be twice as big as all positive number … but equally infinite.

There can be infinite sets of only numbers which divide by three or cardinal number and any bizarre combination of fractions. They are all infinite, but some are bigger than others.

Finite and infinite sets. Two sets have the same cardinality when there is bijective function associating them. Cardinality it is reflexive, symmetric and transitive. Countable sets: the set of all integers, set of even numbers, positive rationals (Cantor diagonalization). Set of real numbers between 0 and 1 has same cardinality asset of all reals. Computability of functions.

How can one infinity be bigger than another infinity? Apparently, universes are sort of like that and now, my brain is due to explode because I can’t keep this kind of information in there.

Our personal numeric world consists of shockingly finite numbers. That’s one of the amazing parts of retirement. You have what you have and you will never have more unless you hit the lottery or have an extremely rich relative planning to die and leave his fortune for you. Retirement income just “IS.” It won’t get bigger. Retirement income pretty much stays the same while the world trundles on.

Life and the universe may be infinite, but retirement income is not.

It’s just a thought to ponder. If you feel like pondering.

A TIME-WARPED GUEST – Marilyn Armstrong


You just can’t trust a time portal. As soon as you think you can relax, eat a little dinner, another old family member drops by. Or, rather pops up.

“So,” says Uncle Shmuel, who has appeared out of nowhere and now miraculously speaks vernacular American English — albeit with a heavy Yiddish accent. “Nice place you got here. I see you keep your animals in your house. That one there sounds like a pig but looks like a dog.”

“They are our pets, Uncle Shmuel. The oinker is Nan. She just makes that sound. She’s kind of old. I think that’s the dog equivalent of ‘oy’.”

“Pets, shmets. Animals. In the house. What’s next? Toilets? Never mind, your life, your choice. Oy.”

“Can I give you something to eat? Tea? Coffee? Cake? If we don’t have it, I can go out and buy some.”

“Are you Kosher?”

“Uh, no. Not Kosher,” and I shiver, thinking of the bacon and ham that yet lives in our kitchen. “Oh, wait, here’s my husband. Uncle Shmuel, I’d like you to meet my husband Garry.”

Shmuel looks shrewdly at Garry, then at me. “He doesn’t look Jewish.”

Garry’s eyes twinkle. “But really I am,” he says and deftly pulls a yarmulke out of his pocket. You have to hand it to Garry. He’s very sharp. The yarmulke has “Joel’s Bar Mitzvah” printed across the back in big white letters. Fortunately, Shmuel doesn’t notice.

“So,” Shmuel continues after a pregnant pause, “You still have problems with Cossacks?”

“No. No more Cossacks, but too many politicians,” I reply.

“Cossacks, politicians, there’s a difference?” he asks.

“Not so much,” I admit. He’s right. There is no difference, except maybe for the absence of a horse.

“And for a living, you do what?”

“We’re retired. But before that, I was a writer. Garry was a reporter. On television.”

“What’s a television?” I look at Shmuel. That’s when I realize we are about to embark on an extended conversation. All I say is: “Oy vay is mir!” Which seems to sum it up.

Oy vay. Can someone set the table?

I SIMPLY CANNOT FATHOM … – Marilyn Armstrong


“I simply cannot fathom,” she said, “How anyone with a dribble of intelligence can think like you.”

“Not everyone thinks everything Trump does is always a bad idea,” he countered. “After all, we wouldn’t want to give those babies back to ‘bad parents,’ would we?”

“Really?” she said as one of her eyebrows rose high above her right eye. “I think he is a moron without a moral center — or even a concept of right and wrong — and anyone who supports him and whatever crap he’s pandering is at least a double moron. Bad enough to be a moron — I have to assume that’s DNA at work — but to willingly follow one? That is literally unfathomable.”

A fathom is a unit of length in the imperial and the U.S. customary systems equal to six feet (1.8288 m), used especially for measuring the depth of water. There are two yards (6 feet) in an imperial fathom.

What could he say? She was unreasonable. He thought maybe it was all about language skills. He wasn’t even sure what “fathom” meant and he sure as hell wasn’t going to let her know that.

“I’d become,” he thought gloomily, “A triple moron.”

Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) loved the paddlewheel steamboat and the river. As a matter of fact, it was during his years on the river he chose his pen name. “Mark Twain” was a frequent call of the leadsman. It meant that the water was 2 fathoms (12 feet) deep and therefore safe water.

He didn’t consider the possibility of changing his political opinions. Not for a second.


He’d have to look it up online, assuming it was spelled like it sounded.

GRUBBY LITTLE HANDS – Marilyn Armstrong


When I think of grubby, I think “three years old and covered with sticky apple juice.” But today, cleaning around my sink, I realized parts of my world have gotten grubby too and are likely to get more so as time chugs on.

Keeping your house clean used to be a normal part of life. You just did it because it was that time again. You fit it in between work and hanging out and that was it. But with the passage of time, it gets harder to do even the easy things and impossible to do the harder things.

So what do you do? Do you give up? If you can’t afford someone to give you a hand, what’s your other choice?

And if someone has an answer, let me know! Because I haven’t found any answers yet.


Since we are into “round and round” this morning, just ONE more and one of my very favorite songs. Is it country music? Or just great music? How many songs make you cry and laugh at the same time? This one does! I loved John Prine. He’s making a bit of a comeback. He had some serious cancer and has not fully recovered, but he still has that wonderful gritty voice … and lucky for us, he was as much a composer as singer and this is a special song. 

Another one going round and round!

John Prine singing “That’s the way that the world goes round.”

A sentiment … several sentiments … to which I can really relate. John Prine. Singing (well, you know, it’s John Prine so it’s singing, sort of) one of my favorites. Musical philosophy.

The meaning of life according to John Prine.


Randy Rainbow on Impeachment Possibilities – REBLOG – Judy Dykstra-Brown

And just to cheer you up, from Judy Dykstra-Brown, this charming big of political humor and music!

lifelessons - a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown

Thanks to forgottenman for sending this to me. HERE is another Randy Rainbow song on his blog.

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DUE: A WORD OF ILL-OMEN – Marilyn Armstrong


“Due to events beyond our control …”

“Your payment is overdue …”

“You car payment is due on the …”

“Your zero payments are now complete and full payment is now due …”

Somehow, “due” is never a positive word. Well, maybe the due-date for a birth is okay. But overall, “due” is filled with ominous ramifications. You are due to pay, forgot your due date (couldn’t pay). You’ve got the evil over-due notice.  You are obliged to pay and oh the horror that will follow should you fail to so do.

So all of my “alerts” are for things I have already paid. They make me much happier. Tell me my payment went through. Assure me that all is well. Tell me the good parts and leave out the icky and ugly.

Because we are all due for a fall.