Greetings, and thanks for joining me for another week. For those who celebrate (or buy into one more way ‘they’ has convinced you to spend lots of your hard-earned money on a ‘special day’), I hope you had a Happy Valentine’s Day.

By the way, in a related vein, not to disparage anyone, but in the 1930s, jewelry giant De Beers  launched a marketing campaign in an attempt to draw buyers during the Great Depression, using its famous now-slogan “A Diamond Is Forever” to depict their product as a priceless, timeless tradition. Then, in the 1980s, De Beers started the “two months’ salary” campaign asking potential customers to connect the amount of money they were willing to spend to the worth of their relationship. (Thinking there are a lot of other areas where that seems true as well. )

It was cold this morning in New Hampshire. We awoke to 16 degrees below zero (not counting any wind chill, which made it feel like 30 or 40 below)! One year I won’t forget (unless I do) was about 23 years ago when we went through a couple of days that hit 40 below zero – the cars’ gas thickened and they wouldn’t start. Of course, as I have said before, I’ll take a New Hampshire winter anytime over tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, exotic creatures, etc.

I officiated a relatively uncommon winter wedding this afternoon – fortunately, it’s indoors. I remember one not many years ago that was an outdoor January wedding of two former students in which the bride arrived to where I was standing with the groom. Her father brought her in on a snowmobile!   Cold but definitely memorable.

My brother taught me that in debate and discussion it is not always ‘either/or’ but sometimes ‘and.’ As I listen to the ongoing debates, both sides have things to offer that resonate. While there are some instant deal breakers, I do hear other things I like. Wouldn’t it be nice to find someone in the middle who can see and work both sides?

Some people get all worked up and critical about people who get offended by this or that. While there are certainly some things about which most people should be offended, there are many others about which they shouldn’t. The one thing that’s overlooked is upbringing and one’s values and morals. I happened to have well-mannered parents who brought me up as a well-mannered person, which is a double-edged sword. I am not an arguer or a fighter. I understand that others had different upbringings, which makes them who they are. Why can’t people just agree to disagree instead of getting into name calling and putdowns?

Yes, but I it art? Fed up with the “pretense” of the art world, performer (and radio personality) Lisa Levy of Brooklyn, New York, sat on a toilet, naked and motionless, at the Christopher Stout Gallery last month to protest artists’ “BS” by presenting herself in the “humblest” way she could imagine. Visitors were invited to sit on a facing toilet (clothed or not) and interact with her in any way except for touching. Levy told the Bushwick Daily website that too much “ego,” “like a drug,” “distorts your reality.” [Bushwick Daily]

Hmmm, I am thinking this isn’t a bad idea: Last summer, the mayor of the town of Ador, Spain (pop. 1,400), officially enacted into law what had merely been custom — a required afternoon siesta from 2 to 5 p.m. Businesses were ordered to close, and children were to remain indoors (and quiet). [The Local (Madrid)]

A Wisconsin man convicted for his 10th Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated charge (OWI) blamed his high BAC on beer-battered fish, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. John Przybyla, 76, was arrested after a deputy noticed his truck cross the center line of a state highway. The deputy said Przbyla’s breath smelled like alcohol and administered a field sobriety test that the suspect failed. Przybyla denied drinking alcohol, but said he had eaten beer-battered fish earlier in the evening. He made the same statements in court. If true, there would have to be a lot of beer in that batter. Police said Przybyla’s blood-alcohol level was .062, which is below the state’s normal legal limit of .08, but the legal limit for Wisconsin residents with three or more drunken driving convictions is only .02 percent. As unusual as the beer-battered fish defense may be, jurors did not buy it. Przybyla was found guilty of operating while intoxicated, 10th offense; operating with a prohibited alcohol concentration; and operating while revoked. No sentencing date has been set, but Przybyla could face up to 12.5 years in prison. [Huffington Post]

Finally, I am wondering if I can get away with this…. A Spanish man was fined after his employer discovered that he had been absent from work for six years without notifying anyone. Joaquin Garcia, a 69-year-old engineer at a municipal water company in Cadiz, was fined more than $30,300 after his employer discovered that he hadn’t reported for work for six years while attempting to present him an award for 20 years of service. The maximum fine represents only slightly less than one year of his annual salary of almost $41,600. His employers at the water company believed he was being supervised by local authorities while deputy mayor Jorge Blas Fernandez thought the opposite to be true. “We thought he had been supervised by the water company but that was not the case,” he told Spanish news outlet El Mundo. Local newspapers have given Garcia the nickname “el funcionario fantasma” or “the phantom official.” Garcia said a combination of office bullying related to his family’s politics and a lack of work for him to do at the water company ultimately caused his extended absence. He did not report these conditions for fear of losing his job. He did occasionally report to work for brief periods of time but spent his days at the office studying philosophy. Garcia wrote to the mayor and requested to not pay the fine and is seeking a review of the court’s ruling. [UPI] Sigh.