Blathr Wayne Lorentz

What is Blathr?

Blathring in December, 2023

Thatʼs the spirit!

Wednesday, December 27th, 2023 Alive 19,237 days

A graph showing Christmas cards sent and received each year from 2004 to 2023

For reasons of anal-retentiveness, I keep a record of the number of Christmas cards we send and receive each year. This year felt particularly bleak, so I put the numbers into a spreadsheet to see if that was true. It was not.

While this was a record year for the number of Christmas cards we sent, and the fewest weʼve ever received, the number received isnʼt all that far off the yearly average. Considering how many of our regular Christmas card penpals have died in recent years, thatʼs not too bad.

A graph showing the ratio of Christmas cards sent to Christmas cards received each year from 2004 to 2023

However, the numbers also show that weʼre putting more effort into Christmas cards than ever. These days we have to send eight Christmas cards for every one card received. It used to be closer to four; and some years less than three. But maybe the mailman will deliver some stragglers this week, and things will balance out.

❖ ❖ ❖

✈︎ ✈︎ ✈︎

Tuesday, December 26th, 2023 Alive 19,236 days

A collection of digital boarding passes. Bo-ring!

For the last few decades, when I read a book I use the stub from my most recent airline boarding pass as a bookmark. Since itʼs dated, and yellows with age, it encourages me to keep traveling, if for nothing else to get a fresh bookmark.

Because we now live in an age of print-you-own, and digital boarding passes the one Iʼm currently using isnʼt my most recent. But if I have a few extra minutes when checking in, I try to print a fresh boarding pass at the kiosk for whatever book Iʼve brought with me. The new ones arenʼt nice and thick and glossy — at least for domestic travel. But international passes on a quality airline are still thick, durable, and evocative of a time when it was de rigueur to fly to another continent, and then figure out hotel and transportation arrangements after you arrived. The conveniences of the internet allow us to move around more easily, but have leached much of the adventure out of travel.

❖ ❖ ❖

The expletive-riddled mind of a first-grader

Saturday, December 23rd, 2023 Alive 19,233 days

I went to public school in my early childhood. And you know what sucked? Public school.

You know why public school sucked? Cookies and orange juice.

What kind of sick bait-and-switch bullshit is that to pull on a six-year-old?

Oh, boy, itʼs snack time! Here comes the nice lady with the tray of cookies!

Om nom nom nom. Boy are these dry. I sure hope thereʼs an appropriately-paired beverage to go with them. Oh good, here comes the drink lady!

Iʼm only in first grade, so I canʼt see whatʼs on the red plastic cafeteria tray sheʼs holding…

Sheʼs handing me a paperboard box…

This is going to be so good…


Fucking orange juice!

Are they serious‽

Attention primary school teachers! Itʼs “cookies and milk,” not “cookies and throat-scratching sauce!” Everyone knows this. Ernie and Bert know this. Romper Room knows this. The Magic Garden knows this. Shit, even that spinning vortex of terrifying LSD fever dreams The Electric Company knows this.

It wasnʼt until I transferred to private school that snack time became a civilized coupling of cookies and milk. Crunchy cookies with delightful morsels of sweet delight, washed down with cold, smooth, soothing cow squeezinʼs.

Say what you want about Sister Maria and her Yardstick of Doom, at least nuns know enough to serve milk with their cookies.

❖ ❖ ❖

Good day, hoser

Tuesday, December 19th, 2023 Alive 19,229 days

The 1981 album Great White North by Bob and Doug McKenzie

I got a new record in the mail today. Well, not a “new” record, as itʼs the Bob and Doug McKenzie Great White North album. Itʼs not actually “new to me,” either, since I had it when it came out in 1981. I donʼt know what happened to my records, but lately Iʼve been re-buying my old collection off of fleaBay, when something is available for under $5.00.

I listened to it, and itʼs very… of its time. I looked it up in Wikipedia, and was surprised to see that it was actually a big hit when it was released. Listening to Great White North both then, and now, I thought it was just an obscure novelty record. Nope. Triple-platinum in Canada, and #8 on the U.S. Billboard chart.

Hearing it with modern ears makes me think that Beavis and Butthead may not have been a complete rip-off of Bob and Doug, but it was at least 90% of the way there. Just replace gratuitous references to beer with oblique references to drugs, and both programs are a couple of blotto under-achievers sitting on a couch repeating catch-phrases and giggling to themselves. Except Bob and Doug have Geddy Lee from Rush, so they win.

❖ ❖ ❖

You canʼt unsee it

Saturday, December 16th, 2023 Alive 19,226 days

Marauding mimes descend on the Midwest in this clip from the film A Christmas Story

Like millions of Americans, I watch A Christmas Story once a year. But it wasnʼt until today that I realized that when Ralph fantasizes about being Red Ryder, heʼs defending his home from a gang of mimes.

❖ ❖ ❖

Discrete drinking

Sunday, December 10th, 2023 Alive 19,220 days

An anonymous coffee in the lobby of the Four Seasons

Todayʼs coffee is Peppermint Mocha Latte from Bayou and Bean in downtown Houston.

Bayou and Bean is the Brigadoon of coffee shops. It appears out of the mists of the Four Seasons Hotel lobby in the morning, and evaporates into the ether by tea time. The atmosphere is mid-2000ʼs conventioneer-on-an-expense-account with shadowy nooks, plump leather, and highly-curated shelves of books that no one will ever read, but everyone will claim to have read.

The coffee, fortunately, doesnʼt match the pastiche of the décor. Itʼs authentically good stuff. Flavorful, but not overpowering. The peppermint is pronounced, but restrained. And the texture is entirely correct. This isnʼt watery Dunkinʼ Dishwater. And itʼs not the gelatinous sludge that passes for coffee-inspired drinks at Starbucks these days. The texture is smooth, but still useful to clear oneʼs throat on a froggy morning. Itʼs the Platonic ideal that Dunkinʼ and ʼBucks swing for, but miss.

The peppermint, itself, is worthy of a paragraph here. Itʼs unlike peppermint coffee flavoring Iʼve had anywhere else. Minty, but not sharp. Itʼs a well-rounded mellow kind of mint. Iʼve read that 90% of the “peppermint” flavoring on the market is actually not peppermint, but lesser ingredients tarted up with chemicals and alcohol to simulate peppermint. If thatʼs true, then this Bayou and Bean coffee must be the real thing.

At least, I hope it is, since this coffee is priced even above Starbucksʼ tariff. But thatʼs to be expected. After all, you do get to sip it on the button-plush leather of a Four Seasons hotel lobby.

Like most good hotels, discretion is prized at the Four Seasons, and the coffee follows. It is presented in an anonymous white cup with an anonymous white sleeve topped with an anonymous black lid. Itʼs not a red-on-brown-and-beige gas station coffee presentation pretending to be an artisanal western Oregon roasting co-op. This is a paper cup for people who are bigger than the brands on the cup. But for those who know — they know.

The aspirational bookshelves at Bayou and Bean
❖ ❖ ❖

He ainʼt heavy, heʼs my Santa

Friday, December 8th, 2023 Alive 19,218 days

Jesus is my homeboy. Santa is his heavy.

Apparently Jesus hired Santa to enforce the strip mall no skateboarding rule.

❖ ❖ ❖

Mostly salt anyway

Wednesday, December 6th, 2023 Alive 19,216 days

Cheesy snacks

One of these cheese snacks is “It.” But the other one is “Better.”

❖ ❖ ❖

Not that kind of pharmacy!

Monday, December 4th, 2023 Alive 19,214 days

Why is it that half of the videographers who post on Adobe Stock think pharmacists use stethoscopes, and the other half think pharmacists work by candlelight with mortars and pestles?

❖ ❖ ❖

Discount Santa

Saturday, December 2nd, 2023 Alive 19,212 days

Santa waiting for a train

It looks like this year we should be giving gifts to Santa.

❖ ❖ ❖

Not a squeegee guy

Friday, December 1st, 2023 Alive 19,211 days

Graffiti in the dirt

Iʼve walked past this dirty window for at least six months, and somehow the rain has never managed to erase the words “Downtown homeless antisocial club.”

I canʼt help but wonder whose fingers traced that notion. Was it an actual homeless person? An art student? A suburban tourist?

❖ ❖ ❖

Runs on java

Friday, December 1st, 2023 Alive 19,211 days

An error message from the Starbucks app

I think Starbucksʼ server needs more coffee.

❖ ❖ ❖