Still improving after 73 years

In 1948 Bernhardt Stahmer unveiled a crinkle-cut potato chip design that would later become synonymous with the name he trademarked: Ruffles.

Ridges in the chip = more chip. Genius.

Fast-forward 73 years and 173 flavors later. (Ruffles has gone the way of every snack item this century, offering its wares in dozens of bizarre flavors of which young Mike O’Connell could only dream.)

Double crunch.

Seriously. Make the ridges taller. Like 100% taller.

Boom. Better potato chip.

My son and I visit one of our local groceries every Friday afternoon and survey strange and unusual food items, picking up one or two to sample, of course. Last week? Double crunch Ruffles, honey mustard style.


This is intense. This is what you want at your Memorial Day barbecue.

Heck, this is what you want for breakfast.

And another reason to keep on livin’!

Because we can’t say enough about Jacob deGrom

Mets ace Jacob deGrom returned to the mound Tuesday night in his first start since going on the Injured List two weeks ago.

DeGrom showed no signs of rust, for though he was limited to five innings he still managed to strike out nine batters while scattering just three hits.

Also got a no decision. What else is new?

DeGrom did show his human side in the fourth inning. After stretching a single into an apparent double (seriously–what can’t this guy do?) deGrom popped off the second-base bag for a split second and was tagged out.

Still got credit for a single.

And he’s now hitting .471.

Still gonna talk about sports even when it’s kind of rough

Nats… last place. Capitals… out. Football team? Lost arguably its best player and now looks to a QB on his ninth team. That’s when we stop talking about how much everyone hates the owner and his hostile work environment.

Carrying the D.C. sports banner? The Washington Wizards, who have a sort-of make-or-break game tonight against top-seeded Philadelphia. (I’m sorry but I just don’t see them coming back from down 0-2.)

I was going to look up when the last time the Wizards were still playing after the Caps had bowed out of the playoffs. Unfortunately not too rare. The Wiz haven’t won a playoff series since 2017, but the Caps haven’t either since they won it all in ’18!

It’s okay, guys. Football Team hasn’t won a playoff game since January ’06.

Sounds of the season

The cicadas in my neck of the woods are out in full force, covering windows, doors, trees, walls, cars, and the occasional person. When one of my students asks for a definition of “ubiquitous” I will reference this moment.

The most offensive part, really, is not their look but their noise, as the constant din of the cicada chorus tops even that of the soccer pitch drone.

Oh, it’d be hell to try to film Politics After Dark these days.

Good thing I’ve already got “Birthday 39” in the can.

New episode drops on June 7.

We’re number eight! We’re number eight!

And I swear the whole game Tuesday night I was thinking… this is it, this is the season.

(It was only at the end did I realize that this was basically a double-elimination tournament for my hometown team.)

With their blowout win last night against Indiana, the Washington Wizards have entered the real playoffs for the first time since 2018. They’ve got their work cut out for them, running up against top seed Philadelphia, but I suppose stranger things have happened.

May those stranger things commence Sunday at one!

This is the new gold rush

Pokémon cards are now so in demand that local retailers cannot handle the crush of customers (sometimes literally) clambering to obtain them. Target, for example, once one of the world’s go-to spots for Pokémon cards, has just plain given up.
Nerds fighting over pieces of cardboard.
Remember the episode of Seinfeld where Jerry fights an old lady for a loaf of marble rye?Yeah, this is worse.

It was twenty years ago today… (actually yesterday)

May 16, 2001, was a momentous day in the life of Mike O’Connell Jr. This was that day I moved into my new apartment, my first apartment as a matter of fact, and, as went the procedure at the time, the day I received a new phone number. (Remember landlines? You move to a new place and take the telephone number that was there before? Whoa.)

The phone number I received that I received that day?

(Pause for effect…)

I still have it.


Saying you’ve had the same phone number for the past 20 years? That’s good. Not many people can do that. I’ve moved several times during that period but always kept the same number. In December 2003 I moved that landline number to my new address, then in 2004 I ditched it and made it my cellphone number. Even after moving to another state I kept the same number because really, what difference does it make? So my number comes up on your phone as “upstate New York.” I can live with that. Way easier than the pain of changing your number.

And we’d all better keep our numbers now, right? Because who actually knows anyone’s phone number any more?

We panicked

You hear about the gas shortage?

Depending on where you live you’ve either been not affected at all or you’re in a complete gas desert, apparently a result of your neighbors’ panicking when told they might not be able to buy gas soon, filling up plastic bags and such with gasoline.

(By the way, filling a plastic bag is not a good idea. The government said so. And speaking of governments, and the regulation of gas prices… don’t even get me started, this post is about panic shopping.)

Loudoun County Virginia? Yeah, we panicked.

If soon all of us are just not driving anywhere at least we have a precedent, right? It’s the March 2020 routine!

We were all going to be hiding in our houses avoiding the cicadas anyway, right?

DeGrom update… because this is what we do

New York Mets pitcher (and frequent subject) Jacob deGrom left his start Sunday after only five innings, “right side tightness” later declared to be the cause. Following a “clean” MRI, deGrom was nonetheless placed on the 10-day Injured List, meaning for the next week and a half the Mets will be without their ace…

and I’ll have to find something else to blog about.

Mother’s Day

Many holidays have found me confused, not about the spirit of the day or its merit, but rather… how to spell it. (I swear I’ve seen “Presidents’ Day about six different ways.)

Mother’s Day? No such problem.

Seems as though the holiday’s founder (that would be the mother of Mother’s Day) foresaw this potential confusion and in fact codified the spelling! Ms. Anna Jarvis trademarked the phrase “Second Sunday in May, Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis, Founder,” in 1912. (The holiday was celebrated with increasing formality for nearly a decade before President Wilson proclaimed it formally in 1914.) Ms. Jarvis specifically noted that “Mother’s” should “be a singular possessive, for each family to honor its own mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world.”

If only all government orders were so clear.