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Irish pennants of the mind

May 7, 2011

When I was in the Marines, we’d often have inspections in our utilities, the work

clothes that are camouflage-colored in combat zones, green elsewhere.  They’re

what made us lean, mean, green, fighting machines.  To avoid getting our asses

chewed out by the inspecting officer, we made sure to clip off any loose threads.

We called them Irish pennants.


Since those days, I’ve used the phrase to refer to loose threads in my head: bits of

unrelated information that stick to my brain, some valuable, some questionable.

Last night, for example, the crawl on CNN announced “Kanye West introduces new

line of scarves.”  What the hell am I supposed to do with that tidbit?  What affect

will it have on the Arab Spring?  Is bin Laden’s death no longer newsworthy?


No matter how inconsequential Kanye’s sartorial ventures are to me, I’ll carry that

meme to my pyre.  Similarly, I know that the capitola of Ecuador is Quito, but that

is likely of no value to me unless I’m on “Jeopardy!”


I do have three items of interest, though.  First off, Jude and I have had to restrict

the outdoor activity of our cat Ollie.  He’s been on a killing spree.  For several days,

our house looked like an episode of CSI.  Feathers and partial corpses were strewn

about as Ollie strutted around like a sociopath.  Here’s one of his crime scenes:

A few times we were able to chase him out through the cat door with the spray bot-

tle, but he got increasingly elusive.  Yesterday he hurdled my arm as I tried to block

him on the stairs to our bedroom.


He knew that once he got upstairs he could hide in the storage areas.  We keep the

doors to them open so he can hunt mice at his convenience.  Inside rodents don’t

seem to be enough for him anymore, though.  He did recently bring in a shrew, but

he won’t eat them.  Some species are venomous.


Secondly, the swallows who built a nest at one end of our roof eaves last year are

now in dispute with some larger birds for that space.  We gave the former tenants

preference and blocked off the contested area.  We put up a triangle of wood with a

1.5″ hole drilled in it.  Jude researched it.  It worked.  The swifts are getting in, and

the bigger birds can’t.  It’s like they’re trying to fit into last year’s bathing suit.     

Lastly and bestly, one of my boyhood idols — Willie Mays — turned 80 yesterday.

No one lit up baseball like Willie.   Happy birthday, Say Hey Kid.  I bet you could

still play for most major league teams, including the Giants again.


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3 Comments
  1. Fletcher Sanders permalink
    May 7, 2011 8:43 pm

    You’re right about useless tidbits that take up space in your head where something useful should go. I still remember the longest song title in the world. It was written by Hoagy Carmichael in 1928: “‘I’m a cranky old Yank in my clanky old tank on the streets of Yoka- hama with my Honolulu mama doing that beato beato slap it on my seato Hirohito blues.” Don’t know why or how I remember it, but I wish I could use the neurotransmitters that it takes to remember it to remember something that will help me in my efforts to get through law school.

    • May 7, 2011 10:14 pm

      The law profession needs people who know the longest song title in the world, Fletcher. Hang in there.

  2. May 7, 2011 10:05 pm

    OK, now I’ll have to look up that song.

    As for the sociopathic cats, currently the toll stands at 3 birds and about 8 lizards. Hobbes is responsible for 98% of the carnage, and he is so sweet, sharing the bounty with me!

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