Department Of Inquiring Minds Want To Know 
Commercial heard between podcast segments:
“At ____ (regional grocery store chain), we go out of our way to ensure
that all of our produce is fresher than fresh.”
The word fresh is repeated several times during the commercial; apparently, that is the produce standard for which the store strives – a standard which, if you believe the commercial, the store exceeds.
So: what exactly, is *fresher than fresh,* and how would I recognize it if moiself saw it?
How can a thing be more than it claims to be? If I am “happier than happy,” then maybe I’m something else…like, ecstatic, or elated. It seems like there should be a word above fresh, and that the advertisers should use it, instead of going for for the “-er” option.
Or, how’s about lowering expectations and going for humility instead:
“At ____ we guarantee our produce was delivered some time earlier this week, and none of it is slimy.”
If you, like moiself , find yourself thinking about such things, perhaps you have the proverbial Too Much Time on Your Hands ®…which gets me to wondering. Why, when one is said to have Too Much Time, it accumulates on your hands, instead of on your feet, or your shoulders?
* * *
Department Of Graceful Segue
The podcast I was listening to, wherein I heard the “fresher-than-fresh” commercial, was the July 26 episode of Curiosity Daily, which began with the following teaser:
“Learn about the ‘Dog Days of Summer;’ why scientists did magic tricks for birds; and the smallest conceivable length of time.”
“…magic tricks for birds.” That phrase inspired such wonderful scenarios in moiself’s mind, it almost seemed unnecessary to actually listen to the segment.
* * *
Best Definition Of A Construct, Ever 
Culture is trying to please other people.
There’s a lot to unpack in a mere seven letters.
But, I can’t remember where I heard that…
Sotto voce: Later that same day….
Oh, now I remember. “Culture is trying to please other people.” I heard it on the most recent episode of Don’t Ask Tig.  It came from Tig’s guest, sociologist, author, and “Life Coach”  Martha Beck. Beck likely knows more than your average bear about unpacking cultural expectations and people-pleasing: she was born into an influential Mormon family; she left the LDS church as an adult and accused her father (one of Mormonism’s most well-known “apologists“) of sexual molestation; she chose to give birth to a handicapped child; she divorced her husband and came out as a lesbian.
Later in the podcast Beck made another interesting observation. It was a jest about her next book, inspired by the please-give-me-advice letter Tig read, sent in by a Quaker minister. The minister was dreading what we all (say we) have been hoping for: the return to “normal.” Things had been well for the minister’s congregation during the COVID-mandated, Zoom-only gatherings; the minister was anxious about going back to in-person meetings. This was due to a dynamic the minister had realized about the congregation, a dynamic made even more clear during the year-plus of physical isolation:
“We really don’t like each other.”
On the subject of resuming “normal” post-pandemic social relationships, Beck noted that she and her partner joked that Beck’s next book should be titled,
How To Keep Your Loved Ones At Bay
Now That Covid Won’t Do It For You Anymore.
* * *
Department Of Yet Another Smoooooooth Segue
Now that we have some of Life’s Most Profound Questions ® out of the way (can produce be *too* fresh; what is culture; where on your body does Too Much Time rest), we turn to mindless pursuit of intellectually void diversions the simple joys of watching an interesting sporting event. And when The Olympic Games are held, we’ve seemingly hundreds to choose from. 
Depending on what floats your boat (and there are several boat-related events to choose from  ), many of the sports might not be in your category of things you find “interesting” to watch. Say you’ve don’t know (or even care) much about cycling. Why not take this opportunity to expose yourself to something new?
Many sports can be fun to play, but are not inherently exciting enough to capture your attention if you are merely observing them. A good sports color commentator can give you enough background information (without making you feel like you’re in a lecture hall) to get you to appreciate facets of a sport you previously felt was fundamentally tedious.
(Except for golf. There’s just no hope there, for moiself ).
* * *
Department Of This Is Why I Watch The Olympics
To paraphrase (read: plagiarize) Lindsay Crouse’s recent article in the NY Times, I’m tired of being cynical about everything. I read every day about how the ship I’m on is sinking…and, certainly in both this blog and out of it, I’m one of the ones pointing out the gaping holes in the ship’s hull. But, right now, I want to rearrange the lawn chairs in the Titanic’s deck and listen to the band.
Read Crouse’s This NY Times op-ed for a more nuanced explanation.
Or, consider this:
Dateline Monday, 7:30 PM-ish. Sport: swimming. Event: the women’s 100m breaststroke final. In an upset that stunned everyone, including and especially the winner, the gold medal was won by 17-year-old Lydia Jacoby, from Alaska. Yep, Alaska, a state with only one fifty meter pool in the entire state and, prior to this event, no Olympic gold medalists. She beat out the two favorites, including a fellow American.
Just as glorious as the look of disbelieving delight on Jacoby’s face was when the telecast cut to an event “watch party” in Seward, Alaska, where the crowd went apeshit. 
As per the Washington Post:
“Seventeen-year-old Lydia Jacoby won gold for a tiny town in Alaska, a state that has one Olympic-sized pool, while overwhelming favorite Lilly King claimed bronze. Please watch the intoxicating video of Alaska celebrating:”
* * *
Department Of A New Sport To Appreciate
Well, it’s not a new sport, particularly to me, who played it competitively in high school. But I haven’t played it…well, since high school, and have never watched it played in the Olympics or in any other professional settings, by Serious Athletes ®. Both MH and I are surprised at how much we enjoy watching the matches.
We’re talking badminton.
Really. Mixed doubles, in particular.
We’re not talking the backyard piffle fest played with the $39.99 plastic racquets-birdies-net set you got on sale at Walmart. Badminton, played by people who know what they’re doing, is incredibly fast-paced. And I enjoyed watching the games, once I got past feeling flummoxed (and a wee bit humiliated) to realize that I couldn’t remember the rules.
Moiself was both laughing and marveling when I watched the service – for doubles teams, that is. The singles players serve as I remember having served, way back when. But in the doubles games we observed, the servers did this awkward backhand, almost inversion placement of their racquet, while grasping just the very edge of the shuttlecock, as if it were something icky they’d picked up off the carpet but they didn’t have gloves and there was no tissue to protect their fingers but they wanted the icky thing off the carpet RIGHT NOW – something like picking up an errant cat turd from the litter box.
All the doubles teams we saw served that way; I didn’t know if it was a rule or just a tradition/or strategy (and moiself decided *not* to Google it, to preserve the “errant turd” imagery in my mind). The team receiving the serve were also entertaining in their own right, stretching out their racquets and/or hands in a warding-off-demons manner, or as if they were casting a spell.
Moiself mentioned earlier having played badminton competitively in high school. I must qualify that statement. It’s hard to even think of the word “competitively” applied to my high school’s badminton teams, after watching the Olympic players. Their skill level is so high, their reflexes so lightening-fast – my high school doubles partner and I would not be worthy to merely stand on the sidelines during the Olympians’ games, gazing at them in awe, and picking up loose feathers from their shuttlecocks…or birdies, as some people call the cone-shaped projectile used in the game of badminton. Either term is fine; it’s fun to have an excuse to say (or write), “shuttlecocks.”
DLF was my high school doubles partner. Senior year we were the #1 doubles team of our school, which meant that we played the #1 badminton doubles teams of other schools in our league, which was composed of three beach-city high schools (read: spoiled rich kids), a few other “normal” Orange County high schools, and Santa Ana High School, which was considered (by the other schools) to be inner city and gang-infested. This was not (exactly) true. However, the reputation helped us during matches with other schools; thus, we did little to dispel it. It especially worked to our advantage in contact sports, such as field hockey. But even in a non-contact sport like badminton we had the intimidation factor…until, a few minutes after meeting and observing us, the wealthier schools figured out they had nothing to fear (i.e., we did *not* have switchblades taped to our racquet handles) and their anxiety transformed into patronizing distain.
Watching Olympics badminton games has caused me to take a stroll down Memory Lane.  My badminton doubles partner, DLF, went on to have a career as a science writer. She was and is a woman of many abilities, but during our senior year badminton partnership she exhibited a heretofore unknown (to moiself ) talent for mimicry.
On the afternoon we played the most obnoxious beach city team (for privacy’s sake I will call them Newport Harbor High, because, oh yeah, that’s who they were), DLF entertained me (read: tried to distract me from my evident disgust with The NHH rich brat antics) during breaks and timeouts – and all through the rest of the season, when we were playing other schools – by imitating the NHH doubles team we played.
DLF (fluttering her fingers over her mouth, while smiling obsequiously
and giggling, in a high-pitched voice):
“Oh my goodness golly gee, was that out?”
There we were, the SAHS low lifes  in our white and red striped shirt and red shorts – the same “uniform” we had for every sport. Our NHH rivals wore matching outfits: white shirts, bright skirts designed with patterns featuring their school’s colors, matching hair ribbons and barrettes (also in the school colors) festooning their (same length, same shade) blonde hair, and – for some reason, this is the accessory that drove me nuts – bandannas tied around their necks, the material of which matched their skirts.
Thus, losing to those Barbie twins was humiliating enough on sartorial grounds, but also, and mostly, for *how* they played – particularly, the patronizing way they made their baseline and sideline calls. 
“Oh, Gee – do you think that was out?”
(Exchange giggles; smile; giggle again and tug at hair ribbons)
“I don’t know, I think it was out…what do you think?”
(more giggles and racquet-twirling)
Moiself: (thinking, but not – usually  – saying aloud):
“Of course it was out, you twit.
You were at the baseline, and I was aiming for your tits and you stepped aside.
FFS, use your big girl voice, call it out, and take the serve.“
* * *
Punz For The Day
Olympic Sports Edition
The Olympic volleyball teams’ website is down.
I think they are having problems with their server.
Why was the fencing champion born in France, but raised in the U.S.,
able to play for both countries in the Olympics?
Because she has duel citizenship.
Is plate-throwing worthy of being an Olympic sport?
Did you hear about the naked toddler competing in the Olympics’ 100m dash?
He was running a little behind.
How does the Olympic torch, which is lit near Athens, manage to stay lit all the way to the opening ceremony?
Because it’s hard to put out a Greece fire.
The divorce rate is high among Olympics tennis players – love means nothing to them.
* * *
May you occasionally enjoy listening to the band while the boat sinks;
May you appreciate playing or watching a sport that uses shuttlecocks;
May all of your produce be fresher than slimy;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 It’s too early for a footnote.
 Or at least, in a long, long time.
 With perhaps the best description an “advice” podcast can have: “Comedian Tig Notaro doesn’t have all the answers, but that won’t stop her from giving advice on your questions about life’s many challenges in this podcast.”
 Yeah, I know.
 Canoe/kayak flatwater and slalom; rowing; sailing)
 Or, the Alaskan equivalent. Whaleshit?
 Which, is an actual street in Santa Ana.
 Actually, the SAHS school mascot/sports name was, so inappropriately, “The Saints.”
 The teams made their line calls, on the honor system. Girls’ competitive athletic programs were minimally funded and there was no money (or staff) staff for referees.
 There were a few exceptions.