Inactive Account Manager


Ever helpful Google has developed a gizmo to deal with your vast digital treasure after you have gone rogue.

The Inactive Account Manager (I.A.M.) can be set to delete or distribute your files if you do not log on for a specified time – 3 months, 6 months or one year.

As part of the set-up process, you have the opportunity to write a message to the person who you designate as the recipient of all your gmail. This message is delivered after your prolonged absence from Google’s universe sets the gears in motion.

I suppose this would be a strange e-mail to write, since it will only be delivered once you have been offline for at least three months. In today’s world, that means dead, or nearly.

So what should you say?

I put this question to Trail Baboon’s Rhyming Poet Laureate, Schuyler Tyler Wyler, and he came up with a message that is carefully organized to have 14 syllables in each line, because in Egypt, the Amenti, an area west of the Nile where souls go after death, was divided in 14 parts.

I asked STW to explain this in more detail and he couldn’t. He said he read it in an unsolicited e-mail that came from a Nigerian Princess.


I’m sending this unwelcome note because I am logged out.
I trust you’ll know the reason why, and what it’s all about.

I’ve been inactive ninety days, and you know that is odd.
I might be comatose, or sick, or wind surfing with God.


I could be traveling abroad – a touring man of leisure.
Or like some old soap opera star – a victim of amnesia.

I may have lost my password or forgotten it or both.
But Google doesn’t care. For it has sworn this sacred oath:


When I fall silent ninety days the system will arise
to notify you properly and then – this grand surprise!

The Garbage I collected (that’s the “G” in “gmail”, dear)
My digital detritus – will now suddenly appear.


The messages that plagued my nights. The crap I learned to rue.
I now transfer into your care. I give it all to you!

The newsletters from NASA and my Facebook friends’ remarks.
They all belong to you today – the compliments, the snarks.


The many mails I didn’t read, the very few I did,
They’re yours forever more my love. Here’s looking at you kid.

Inactive Account Manager (it’s known as “I.A.M.”)
Has concluded I’m No Longer. That is why you’ve got my Spam.


Here’s hoping I am still on Earth and not somewhere beneath it.
At least I know I’m Free At Last From Gmail. I’ve bequeathed it!

No Jumping!

Bathtub Safety Officer Rafferty often watches the news, horrified.  Then he scolds.

At ease, civilians!

Keep your feet on the ground and you’ll be fine, unless you’re standing over some kind of a sinkhole. I’m here to tell you about a public safety menace currently making the rounds – namely the cavalier public discussion about, and reviewing of, Sunday’s vivid basketball injury to Louisville’s Kevin Ware.

If you operate a TV station or cable channel that is constantly re-running this footage, shame on you! If you are someone who has been describing this injury in gruesome detail to people who didn’t see it, shush. And if you haven’t heard anything at all about it all, please, never mind.

In all my years as a professional alarmist I have worked hard to unsettle audiences everywhere by sharing explicit injuries using full-color photos, close-up videos and the most powerful tool of all, words. But I’ve never seen anything like this. Ware’s tibial twist threatens to make jumping the new smoking. And it has sent people into their respective camps.

I have learned that there are really only two different kinds of people – The Squeamish, and Everybody Else. One type is nearly incapacitated by the mere thought of a traumatic injury. The other type shrugs.

If you are a Squeamling, you know how little of someone else’s pain is required to send you into the full fetal position. If you are a Shrugger, really – you couldn’t care less. But I still want you to stop jumping, so I’ve made up a little poem to help you remember.

Be careful when leaping
Stay low when you soar
Go up just enough,
not a quarter inch more.

Between you and the ground
do not put too much room.
your leg bones are not
as tough as you assume.

So be frugal when launching
yourself into the air.
Because when you return,
you don’t want to be Ware.

Yours in compulsive, marginally irrational caution,
Bathtub Safety Officer Rafferty


The Frozen Birds of Spring

The first day of spring rarely seems spring-like.



Of all the creatures seasons bring
I love the frozen birds of spring
Their frigid talons clutch the trees
They work to bend their icy knees

They set their snowy, arctic eyes
to sing an ode to slushy skies.
Though winter lingers far too long
They lift constricted throats in song

Their warbles, painfully expressed
from slushy lung and freezing breast
emerge, reluctantly, as squeaks
In polar air through frosty beaks.

These chilly chirps congeal and thud,
like hardened bricks of song-filled mud
that tumble out a brittle tune
made by a bird who came too soon.



Death Complaint Haiku

Considering death, I have noted with chagrin the vast number and variety of possible exits from this life – most of them unpleasant and all of them unjust.

And yet, some days it seems like the universe wants to find memorable ways to demonstrate that it is inherently unfair, causing innocent people lose their lives in unfortunate accidents. I am reminded of this by the astounding case of Mr. Jeff Bush of Seffner, Florida.

One Thursday, he climbed into his bed only to have a sinkhole open right beneath him. What are the chances?

Bush’s brother attempted a rescue as the bedroom was collapsing, but it was not to be. First responders looked and listened for a sign that the victim was still alive in the hole, but no signal was received. Authorities have determined the body to be “unrecoverable”, due to the awkward logistics of these unexpected openings in the porous limestone that undergirds Florida and several other states.

There are no “good” ways to go and every loss is a tragedy. But this one seems particularly capricious. In fact, an aggrieved person would be justified in lodging a complaint at the Pearly Gates. Though with so many new arrivals having legitimate gripes, a word limit on the appeals would be wise, no doubt.

Could you put it in a haiku?

I had just started
“Now I lay me down to sleep”
What was your hurry?

Piano movers
really shouldn’t text while they
are holding the rope.

Never listen when
any photographer says
“Take one more step back”

Other times I ate
identical sandwiches
they slid down just fine.

In retrospect that
pricey, stable stepladder
was a better buy.

That locomotive
was slower than my Harley.
Timing is crucial.

Speaking of timing, later might be way too late. Better write yours now.

The Farter of his Country

On George Washington’s Birthday, it occurred to me that the father of our country has received every possible accolade except an Oscar. It must annoy Washington’s most ardent fans to think that Lincoln is about to get one first. Before the founder? Unthinkable!

But at least Washington’s profile is on the still-worth-having quarter and his pained face is on the not-yet-completly-devalued one dollar bill, while Lincoln is the one stuck riding the doomed penny into oblivion.

Still, it’s hard to imagine what sort of salute a single person can offer when so very few honors remain unbestowed. Unless it’s that most American of tributes – a disrespectful limerick. Or three.


George’s obelisk anchors our mall
In the town, nothing else is as tall.
Not a king or a God
it’s a vertical nod
to a guy who made cherry trees fall.

Our first President, patriot, scholar.
had a hairdo that reached to his collar.
All his powder was white
He wore curlers at night
And today that’s his ‘do on the dollar

George’s troops had no shoes and no pillows.
But they loved him like kids love marshmallows.
They were men without means,
But when he fed them beans,
He was first in the farts of his fellows.

A grateful nation has decided to create a monument to you.
What should it be?

Meet The Relative

In February, 2013, a data-crunching effort examined thousands of mammal measurements (including ours) to conclude that everything from elephants to Lindsay Lohan sprang from a common Hypothetical Placental Mammal Ancestor. The numbers suggest this happened sometime after the demise of the non-flying dinosaurs, when the coast was clear at last for our stompable forebears to gain a foothold rather than being flattened in a footprint.

Placental Ancestor

There seems to be a lot ofexcitement and chatter about this latest bit of evolutionary news, as if it is some kind of a surprise. I, for one, have always known that at least one of my relatives was a furry, bug eating, shrew – not quite a rat but definitely more kick-ass than a mouse.

Several fit that description, actually. No need to name names.

But of course all this is still controversial, and will remain so for thousands, maybe millions of years. Or until the next major asteroid provides a clean slate for another robust species to start its journey from dining on available insects to computer-assisted speculation about the family tree.

But just in case this turns out to be true, we should take advantage of our position in time to be the first to write a greeting to our freshly imagined progenitor – the Hypothetical Placental Mammal Ancestor.

Here are three, in haiku form:

Oh shrew-like fur ball
Good thing you ditched the long tail
Before there were doors.

Is a bad first name for one
lacking confidence.

Mother of us all
Eating a bug for the team
It tastes like chicken.

Send a greeting to our H.P.M.A.

Super Rhyme XLVII

Here’s a Super Bowl poem from Trail Baboon’s rhyming poet laureate, Schulyer Tyler Wyler.  A common question on the Monday after the world’s largest remaining Roman Numeraled Event is “Did you watch the Super Bowl?”  I suggested that phrase as a title for the poem, and told STW he could come up with the rest as long as it doesn’t go on for too many verses.

STW said he was willing to take on this project under three conditions:

  1. He could base the poem on the rhythm and rhyme scheme of the song “Do You Hear the People Sing?” from Les Miserables. “I just saw the new film version and that stupid song is stuck in my head,” he said. “‘Do You Hear The People Sing’ and ‘Did You Watch The Super Bowl’ have the same number of syllables, so I should be able to do it in ten minutes flat, and maybe this will help me banish the thing from my brain at long last.”
  2. I would not require him to actually watch the game or know anything about it.
  3. I would pay him in advance.

Since I AM interested in watching the game and did not want to have to come up with a blog post for today, and since STW and I always deal in make-believe money,  I agreed to pay him $1,000 pretend dollars and he got to work immediately.

For reference, here’s the original song, from the 1998 film version.


Did you watch the Super Bowl?
There was a lot of stuff to see.
There was a ton of advertising
pushing stuff that’s not for me.

There were men who came to play
fighting about an oblong ball
but what they did I cannot say
for I don’t recall.

I saw puppies and a baby.
Sloppy kissing and a car.
Some beer was drunk by people
but don’t ask me who they are.
It all was a blur, and so noisy.
I watched in a bar!

Did you see the Super Bowl?
Yes but it all went by so quick.
There was a time when I blacked out.
I’m sure the nachos made me sick.

There were fortunes that were lost.
There was a bunch of money won.
But it did not appear to me
anyone had fun.

There were folks with painted faces
wearing beads for Mardi Gras.
There were men so overweight
they needed girdles and a bra.
And that was my family, I hope that
nobody else saw!

Did you see the Super Bowl?
Well yes I knew that it was on.
And I suppose I watched a little
bit while stifling a yawn.

I am sure they’ll play again.
Two super teams will get their shot.
And which teams played the game this year
I will have forgot.

I’m pretty sure I did not get my make-believe money’s worth from rhyming poet laureate Schuyler Tyler Wyler, but that’s what the morning after the Super Bowl is for – waking up with the feeling that you’ve just thrown away a bunch of time and money on something meaningless.

And I think he was lying about not watching the game. That line about blacking out is a clear reference to the 3rd quarter power failure at the Super Dome.

What do you do when the electricity goes out?