Friday, February 5, 2016


People must think I have a foul mouth. Maybe I do. I haven't really considered it till now.

Take for instance a family reunion a few years back where one of my relatives thought that a karaoke machine would be a good source of entertainment to accompany drinking copious amounts of beer. This was a good thing for several members of my family who have the gift of music and great voices. Unfortunately, I'm not in that subset of Murphys. So you can understand my apprehension to get up and sing in front of anyone. But it looked fun, and what better place is there to try something than in the safe confines of a family reunion? Still, I had my doubts. So I recruited my brother and his then four year old daughter to get up sing with me. We flipped through the catalog while one of my uncles with a golden voice crooned yet another Sinatra tune. I decided right then and there that if we were going to do it, we'd mix it up and put some funk into the reunion. The song I selected was "Play That Funky Music".

It didn't go well. I'd have to say that "Play That Funky Music" is not a wise choice for an audience of senior white folks. Duh. What I obviously didn't take into account was the audience. Most had never heard this song before. That was immediately apparent as I scanned the audience one verse into it. I saw a lots of confused and unhappy looks. By the time we got through the chorus, my Dad was frantically waving us down and signalling for us to stop. So we did. His anguished questioning afterward was: how could we -- me, my brother and his four year old daughter -- how could we be singing a song about the "F" word at a family reunion?

Funk,  Dad. The word was funk. 

Yeah, pretty good. Apparently, all my relatives think I have a foul mouth.


Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I got a one-word SMS response from my kid brother. It said "okf".

Upon receiving the text, I assumed that he had fat-fingered a letter "f" when he typed, "ok". I dismissed it and moved on.

But then a few minutes later he replied with another "okf" to something else. Brendan's texting is typically precise. He rarely butchers things more than once.

So curious, I asked what the "okf" was all about. I had never heard/read it before.

It should be noted that other than fat-fingering, I never ascribed any meaning to the trailing "f" here; my mind was simply pure in wonderment.

He replied: "Okay Fine".

He immediately followed up with an explanation that the IT professionals from India like to say "Okay fine" in place of the simple, "Okay" when they are in agreement on something.

Okay fine. I got it.

I listened for the "Okay fine" on my next conference call with my colleagues in India. Suddenly, that's all I heard. It was as if somebody turned on the Okay Fine spigot and it was flowing freely like never before.

I decided right then that I'd adopt this saying in my own speech, and begin sprinkling the shorter "okf" in my SMS messages as well.

So the first chance I got, I sent an "okf" to my buddy Fred.

There was a pause before the bubble indicated he was replying back to me. He didn't mention anything about the "okf".

I replied with another "okf" shortly after.

Fred didn't ask. But he noticed. When I told him later about "okf", he laughed and said that he thought I was saying "Ok F*cker" in my replies to him.


So keeping score, in addition to all present at the Murphy family reunion, Fred also thinks I have a filthy mouth.

Okay fine. It's okay that Fred et al think I have a filthy mouth, but I never expected my wife to say the same thing.

But sure enough, using "okf" with Katherine brought the same confusion that Fred experienced. In fact, she vehemently protested with lots of exclamation points to stop texting,"okf" in my replies to her.

I asked her why.

She replied that it wasn't nice.

I pressed and asked her what she was talking about.

She stated that I shouldn't send "okf" because the single letter "F" means a lot of things, most of which are not nice to say.

Okay fine. Who knew "okf" would cause so much consternation?

In any case, lots of people think I have a dirty mouth. Okf, maybe I do, but I haven't considered it till now.

Happy Friday. Thanks for reading. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Unnoticing One's Future Home

The move went well last week. It happened in a domino effect: we closed on the house an hour after our (former) house was purchased by our buyers, and an hour before the sellers of our house closed on their new place. Fortunately, everything went according to plan, and within hours we were unpacking boxes.

Our new(er) home was built in 1948. It's certainly not "new" by any stretch, but it's a quarter century younger than our previous one. It has unmistakable mid-century modern architecture. For one, it has that Kitchen of Tomorrow look with original "St Charles" steel cabinets, complete with swiveling drawers, a built-in cutting board, all sorts of cubby holes, and my personal favorite: the spring-assisted, rise-to-counter-height drawer/shelf (probably for a mixer) with an electrical power port built in. As they might say in the 50s: it’s fat city.

I also appreciate this house’s understated appearance. You could drive by it a thousand times and never notice it. It's a plain brick ranch with a two car attached garage. The landscaping is nice, but not extraordinary. It symmetrical, has clean lines, and is simple. It's not unpleasant to the eye, but it doesn't jump out at you either. In fact, you'd probably miss it if you weren't looking out for it.

I rode past this house and not noticed it for the first time on July 4, 2007. Fred and I were at the end of my first group ride. Ever. True story. As asides: I met Munson and Redemske that day. I also gave the flags that I had used on my bicycle to recognize our Nation's Independence day to Fred's son Jack, who was getting ready to join the Fourth of July neighborhood parade as we rolled up. Anyway, Independence Day 2007 was the first day I rode by and unnoticed my future home.

The Murphys have moved in. There goes the neighborhood.

Happy Friday. Thanks for reading.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Moving Day

Today is our moving day. I've spent the better part of the past 48 hours boxing up stuff that we've accumulated over many years in this house. I haven't seen my bicycle once during it, but I'm nevertheless physically exhausted.

Packing up involves purging things: selling, giving away or making runs to the dump.The exercise is a valuable one to go through as it is very much an in-your-face lesson about the impermanence of stuff. Stuff that was once considered valuable, stuff that once held a meaning or purpose but is of no longer value for the given moment. It's all just a lot of stuff. Still, I'm a sentimental person, and it came as no surprise to me that letting go of some of this wasn't easy. But for the most part, I got through it pretty well. I suppose what I'm saying is that regardless of whether one is invigorated or exhausted by the act of purging, letting go is nevertheless a necessity.

That's life.

In a few hours, we will be signing paperwork and handing over the keys. Soon, these walls will be occupied others, and like Katherine and I, and those before us who've called this address their home since 1926, they too will one day be in the position I am in right now.

It's been a good house and a great home. I am grateful.

Happy Friday. Thanks for reading

Friday, January 15, 2016

By Grabthar's Hammar

What's this world coming to in 2016? First, it was David Bowie, and now Alan Rickman.

Now I'm not going to pretend that I know much about Mr. Rickman. He was a villain in Die Hard, Sheriff Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. And of course, Snape in the Harry Potter movies. He was great in all of these.

However, my favorite role of his was Alexander Dane/"Dr Lazarus" in Galaxy Quest (1999).

Rickman's Alexander Dane/Dr Lazarus is loosely based off of Star Trek's Spock. He wears a prosthetic head piece to make him appear like an alien. From the beginning of Galaxy Quest, we quickly realize that the glory days of his character have long past. Unemployed, he tours the science fiction conventions, where he is asked repeatedly to quote his famous line, "By Grabthar's hammer, you will be avenged" to geeks seeking autographs. His disgust in palatable: disgust for those words, for his charcater, his fans, his fellow cast members, and for his life of an unemployed actor who has to whore himself at Sci-Fi conventions. However, as the plot develops, Alexander Dane goes from not wanting to even hear the line being said, to embracing his character and those words fully when he's thrust into comforting a friend dying in his arms. How Alan Rickman took a line that was scorned to moving drama was magical. That's acting right there.

If you haven't seen Galaxy Quest, it's currently streaming on Netflix. You don't have to be a science fiction fan to appreciate this quirky comedy. The cast is star-filled (Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Tony Shalhoub (the "Monk" guy)), the script is quite clever, and the action keeps building. But what Galaxy Quest does well is that it goes from seemingly lampooning its fan-base to embracing it in the end. Alan Rickman's acting was a large part of making that transition happen.

By Grabthar's Hammer, he will be missed.

Friday, January 8, 2016


I've seen The Force Awakens three times now. Thrice. Can you say nerd alert?

Anyway, as I'm sure you've seen or heard, it's good. It is nearly as good as The Empire Strikes Back (TESB). Though TESB is a perennial fanboy's favorite in part due to Frank Oz's Yoda, it was also the first Star Wars film to introduced puppets. This was bad because the puppets gave Lucas a green light to bring on the Ewoks (n'yub n'yub) in Return of the Jedi. Boo! But the Ewoks were nothing compared to what came next: CGI Jar Jar Binks. Ugh.

Too much of a good thing is not a good thing.

But then again, if we didn't have Jar Jar, then we wouldn't have this lovely Robot Chicken short:

So back to my main point. In TESB, Yoda challenged Luke to unlearn what he had previously learned. I like that. I've used that line several time when attempting to change something faulty in the way I think. Executing this successfully often proves to be more difficult than it seems. Even the simplest thing can be difficult to unlearn.

Take the Alphabet Song. Like most Americans, you probably learned the letters to the alphabet by singing it to that jolly old tune:
♬ A-B-C-D-E-F-G
Q-R-S, T-U-V. 
W-X, Y and Z. 
Now you know your ABCs 
Next time won't you sing with me 

This is a marvelous mnemonic. It has a simple melody and rhythm that incorporates the letters into rhymes to reinforce memorization.

Well, the alphabet song is done differently in Singapore. They use the same tune. That's not the problem. The issue is that they messed with the rhythm and have completely disrupted the rhyming letters. And there's also the problem with how they pronounce the letter "Z". Because Singaporeans got their English from the Brits, they call the final letter "Zed". Zed? Now how is Zed going to rhyme with anything in the alphabet song? (it can't)

So here's how Singaporeans sing their alphabet.
A-B-C-D-E-F-G   /* so far so good */
H-I-J-K-L-M-N       /* um what? */
O-P-Q-R-S-T-U      /* off the rails now */
V-W-X-Y- ZED     /* ew! that's just wrong! */

I'll tell you what. That's poppycock. That's what that is. Pure poppycock; a total hack job that has butchered the rhythm and rhymes.

There are some things worth unlearning. The alphabet song is not one of them.

I think Yoda would approve of this message.

Happy Friday. Thanks for reading.