Random Thoughts While Driving in Waco

By Jack Smith

Have you ever heard of "flammable ice"?

If it weren’t for the internet, I wouldn’t have. I saw a news headline about Chinese flammable ice. What the heck is that? If I tried to light a piece of ice, the match would get wet and waste my time. But I looked it up.

Flammable ice is a potentially great source of energy. The ice is at the bottom of the ocean or near polar caps. (I thought polar caps were hats worn by polar bears — I was wrong.) There is gas in the frozen ice that can be extracted but not easily. China is a fuel-hungry country and has been working on flammable ice for a couple of decades. Someday it may be huge, but at the moment it’s kind of a pipe dream.

What is a pipe dream? The dictionary says an “unrealistic hope or fantasy.” Where did the phrase come from? It refers to the dreams experienced by smokers of opium pipes. There were a lot of opium dens in England in the 18th and 19th centuries and apparently some weird dreams. There is an unfortunate, fairly new problem of opioid abuse in the U.S., but they probably aren’t doing it in dens, or living rooms.

Why do we have attorneys at law but doctors of medicine? Apparently “at law” came from English common law, and we just went along with it. What’s the difference in an attorney and a lawyer? In the U.S., there really is no difference. In England, attorneys are called solicitors. You can see many signs in the U.S. that say “No Soliciting.” Maybe it originally meant “No Lawyers,” which was probably a good thing.

This year my UT Longhorns made it to the regional baseball playoffs where they were beaten by Long Beach State who must have cheated. Do you know the Long Beach baseball mascot? It’s the Dirtbags — the Long Beach State Dirtbags. Why? It dates back to 1989 when the school had its first baseball team and a dirt-only practice field. It’s an unfortunate nickname. I guess if they’d had a regular field they would be the Grassbags, which is better than Gasbags.

Did you know that refried beans are only fried once? If they were fried twice, I guess they would be trifried beans.

More politically correct news. One university is concerned about a number of homeless college students. But calling them “homeless” isn’t kind, so they are now referred to as “precariously housed.” That is precariously stupid.

Looking back over my long life, I have left some stones unturned.

I saw a TV ad for Volvo. They had a Midsommar Sale. It wasn’t a typo. Midsommar is a Swedish celebration of summer. It’s like the Fourth of July, but it’s at the end of June and celebrates the summer solstice with food, fun and festivals — and probably car sales. Wonder if they also have Midsommar mattress sales?

Did you hear about the dermatology conference that had “Breakout Sessions”? I didn’t either.

I recently bought a watermelon, a small round one. It was very tasty. The sign at the grocery store and a label on the melon said it was seedless. My guess would be that there were two or three thousand seeds in that melon. Enough to start a watermelon farm. They weren’t the big black ones (the ones good for spitting contests) but small whitish-yellow seeds that you can eat without noticing. The only problem is the truth-in-advertising concept. Their advertising is a little seedy.

IF I WERE KING: Congress would pass a law requiring advertising to be as honest as they are. Uh, never mind.