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Pine Nuts – The Alliance Ticket

February 7, 2024 | McAvoy Lane

What Would Mark Twain Say?

How nice might it be, were we able to earn voting power. Yes, one vote for everybody, two votes for high school grads, three votes for college grads. The Constitution says nothing against it. As it is, I drive a good friend to the polls and we split the ticket, he being a graduate of Harvard Law School. Under an Earned Voting Law, I would be inspired to go back to college and graduate to pull even with my pal and avoid getting clobbered at the voting booth.

Also, a third-party “Alliance Ticket” might be helpful. This party would be dedicated to getting things done through cooperation and compromise sans animosity or acrimony.

So what might Mark Twain have to say? 

“I don’t vote for politicians, it only encourages them. Well look at it, look how difficult it is today to find a politician with morals and ethics high enough, that he will stay bought.” 

Okay, so let us safeguard our enfranchisement. How ‘bout a simple competency test on governance to weed out those who don’t know the Constitution from the Lord’s Prayer. What keeps our republic afloat is good citizenship. We all need a moral compass to help us reject exclusionary and violent ideologies. Do I hear a second? Yes, Mr. Twain…

 “In political independence I have found a spiritual comfort and a peace of mind quite above price.” 

Agreed, a third-party Alliance Ticket will serve to inspire our body politic to become a more ethical and moral institution. We might need the help of an army of historians, educators and journalists to lift us out of our present predatory two-party malaise, for we live in a house divided, and we know what Abe Lincoln had to say about that…

Our mutual friend Mr. Twain has some words of caution that might be helpful in the organizing of an Alliance Ticket…

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” 

Also, there is this Twain caveat, “To create man was a quaint and original idea; but to add the sheep was tautology.”  

So whom might we dragoon to head-up this Alliance Ticket? I would do it myself, but I have this carbuncle that is just killing me. No, we shall leave the filling of these wide-open seats to you, the gentle reader. Meanwhile, let us accept our present system as an obligation to do what is just, and kind.

Finally, as is our custom, we shall leave the last word to Mark Twain…

“No country can be well governed unless its citizens keep religiously before their minds that they are the guardians of the law and that the law officers are only the machinery for its execution, nothing more. This atrocious doctrine of allegiance to party plays directly into the hands of politicians of the baser sort, and doubtless it was borrowed, or stolen, from the monarchial system.” 

Audio: https://anchor.fm/mcavoy-layne

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PINE NUTS – My 49er Hero

January 31, 2024 | McAvoy Lane

What Would Mark Twain Say?

Back when the Niners were training pre-season at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, I would ride my bike over there to watch them scrimmage. This was 1956 or so, and at 12 years old I quickly got to know their names by their faces…what fun!

One bright St. Mary’s morning our center, Frank Morze, knocked a contact lens right out of the eye of linebacker Matt Hazeltine. Play was stopped and we kids were invited out onto the field to look for that contact. Knowing exactly where it happened, I found it, and Matt Hazeltine insisted I join the team for lunch there at the college. Wow!

I sat between Matt and Frank, but it was Frank who took an interest in me and asked all kinds of questions about my grades, my girlfriend, even my bike. He was a true gentleman.

Fast forwarding 30 years, I was training for the Hawaiian Ironman, and in my exhilaration of beating my personal time racing up Mt. Rose on my bike, I threw my arms into the air like they do in the Alps, sailed off the road onto the rocks, and flatted both tires.

So I stuck out my thumb and was happy to accept a ride in the back of a pickup. The driver was a big guy who asked through an empty window, “What are you doing up here?”

I told him and he boasted, “I used to play football.”

“Oh yeah? What team?

“Forty Niners.”

“When did you come up?” I asked with growing interest.

“Fifty-six or so.”

“You came up with Frank Morze?”

He shot a look at me through the empty window, swerved a little across the line, and shouted back, “I AM Frank Morze!

Frank took me right to my front door while I rattled off the names of his teammates from those days so long ago.

“He shook my hand and said, “You remember more of my mates than I do, son.”

“And you were the best center the Niners ever had, Frank.” I extoled.

“Thanks, kid.” And he gave me a broad smile.

So here was a Forty Niner who showed a kindness to the same kid thirty years apart. Though Frank has since been promoted to the gridiron in the sky, I hope he will take comfort in knowing he is remembered as an all-star gentleman all these years later…

As is our custom, we shall leave the last word to Mark Twain…

“There are a few matters of peculiarity here on earth which I wish to describe.  One of them comes from the diary of Methuselah -on baseball: He that bore the club did suffer the ball to be flung at him divers times, but did always bend in his body and so save himself, whilst the others spat upon their hands. Yet he failed to avoid the next ball, which cracked his skull. I shall visit this sport no more, as the game doth lack excitement.” 

Audio: https://anchor.fm/mcavoy-layne

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What Would Mark Twain Say – Secrets to Longevity

January 19, 2024 | McAvoy Lane

By the time I had reached twenty years of age, I had managed to crash a motorcycle, a car, even a friend’s hydroplane, not to mention surviving a skydiving accident and missing the pool as a clown diver. I was an accident looking for a place to happen, and did not expect to see thirty. But God looks out after children and idiots, and I’m here today to talk about longevity…

Rule #1: Stick to a Mediterranean diet.

What would Mark Twain say? “Stick to things that do not agree with each other’s company and let them fight it out on the inside.”

Rule #2: Drink in moderation.

Mark Twain: My books are water; those of the great geniuses are wine. Everybody drinks water. Oh, and whatever a man’s age, he can reduce it several years by putting a brightly colored flower in his buttonhole.  

Rule #3: Don’t smoke.

Mark Twain: “I came into the world asking for a light, but I’m smoking in moderation now, I never smoke more than one cigar at a time. No, it’s easy to give up smoking, I’ve done it thousands of times.”

Rule #4: Exercise daily.

Mark Twain: “Exercise is loathsome. I’ve never seen any advantage in being tired. Whenever I get the urge to exercise, I go lie down somewhere until it passes away. Oh, and never put off until tomorrow what you can put off until day after tomorrow.”

Rule #5: When angry count four.

Mark Twain: “There are times when profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer, and when it comes to pure ornamental cursing, the average American is gifted above the sons of men. Oh, I used to be able to utter an oath that would knock the dust up where it struck the ground. When angry count four. When very angry, go ahead and swear, it’s the people’s poetry.”

As is our custom, we shall leave the last word to Mark Twain…

 “I have achieved my 188 years in the usual way; that is by sticking to a scheme of life that would kill anybody else. You cannot reach old age by another man’s road. My habits protect my life, while they would assassinate you. The important thing, the essential thing, is that we endeavor so to live, that when we come to die, even the undertaker will be sorry. 

Our dear friend, ally and thirty-year housekeeper, Katy Leary, wrote about me in her book, ‘Mr. Clemens swore like an angel, not like real swearing, but gay.’  

Now I promised you some etiquette on getting into heaven. Upon arriving at the Pearly Gates, don’t speak first. Let St. Peter speak first. And don’t try to take a selfie with him, hell is full of people who have tried that. And don’t take your dog.  Heaven goes by favor, if it went by merit your dog would go in and you would stay out.”

Audio: https://anchor.fm/mcavoy-layne

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PINE NUTS – Super Sunday Clemens Cointreau

January 9, 2024 | McAvoy Lane

What Would Mark Twain Say?

Whiskey, unless we put it on our bunions, is not good for us, yet great numbers of folks will be sipping it on Super Sunday in Las Vegas, as the word “book” morphs into a powerful verb. Super Bowls bring us together. I remember our son’s first words. We were watching the Super Bowl together at home when he witnessed his first field goal, stuck his little finger into the air, and shouted, “It’s GOOD!” 

Personally, I concoct my own Clemens Cointreau for Super Sunday, and I shall share my secret here with my good friend, the gentle reader. You suspend, and hermetically seal a naval orange in a bell jar, to hover above a couple liters of brandy and a cup of sugar for 30 days, during which time that orange drips flavor down into the brandy, and on Super Sunday, Voila! You’ve got Clemens Cointreau for the angels. But you don’t want to eat the orange, or you could find yourself conversing with your grandfather, who has been deceased for a decade. All you need now is a St. Bernard to deliver your Super Sunday Clemens Cointreau to the neighbors in a small barrel strapped to his neck, along with a nice note.

As a fan of the Chicago White Stockings, Mark Twain would never get to see a Super Bowl, but if he had, we know what he might have chosen to compliment the contest. He wrote to his wife, Livy, from London in 1874, that he would like to have waiting upon his arrival back home, “…a bottle of Scotch whiskey, a lemon, some crushed sugar, and a bottle of angostura bitters.  Ever since I have been in London I have taken a wine glass cocktail made with those ingredients before breakfast, before dinner, and just before going to bed.” 

Today we call that a “Mark Twain Cocktail” and we can find it at the Fox in Carson City on any delightful day. To cleanse the pallet, I highly recommend the “Langhorne Lager” on tap for our pleasure. (Langhorne being Sam Clemens’s middle name.) So that being said, what would Mark Twain have to say?

“As for drinking, I have no rules as for drinking, when others are drinking, I like to help. I have found that a tumbler full of whiskey in the early evening is a preventive of toothache. I’ve never had the toothache, and what is more, I don’t intend to have one.” 

Finally, as is our custom, we allow Mr. Twain the last word…

“How solemn and beautiful is the thought that the earliest pioneer of civilization is never the steamboat, never the railroad, never the newspaper, never the missionary, but always whiskey! All hands turn to and build a church and a jail, and behold, civilization is established forever in the land.”  

Please join us next week for “What Would Mark Twain Say?” It’s free, and worth it! 

I’m McAvoy Layne

Audio: https://anchor.fm/mcavoy-layne

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PINENUTS – McAvoy’s Maxim

January 3, 2024 | McAvoy Lane

Perhaps not unlike you, I never took a hankering to algebra. In fact, I was told by an upperclassman that were I to live to be a hundred, I would never use it. But I did. When I wanted to know how many miles-per-hour I would have to run to finish the Boston Marathon in under three hours I used an algebraic equation to figure it out, 180 minutes/26 miles = X/1. By solving for X, I was able finish that race in under three hours, barely…

Today I would ask that we consider an alternative algebraic expression, McAvoy’s Maxim let’s call it, as a drawdown to World Peace. This is an algebraic blueprint for a lasting armistice in a troubled world. But allow me to mansplain…

 Algebra diplomacy is quite simple: Afghanistan a2/Zimbabwe b2 = (a – b)(a + b). Extrapolating that formula, Bahrain a2/Yemen b2 = (a – b)(a + b). Thus we create a comprehensive mathematical chart of coefficients for all nations, and the impossible becomes possible. 

Yes, by looking at the world through an algebraic lens we can see how easy it is for us to get along, and refrain from killing each other in futile attempts to solve our differences. The age-old hard power math used today for settling warfare and violence has never worked, and never will work. Everybody now recognizes it as a sum zero game of the very worst kind. As algebra becomes biologic, algebraic statecraft becomes our answer to world peace…

We are at an inflection point here in 2024, and what does that mean? It means if we don’t make some drastic adjustments this year, well, by 2025 we could find ourselves in deep doodoo. The act of drawing down our weapons of mass destruction, alongside our algebraic partners, is an equation for world peace. Once our algebraic diplomacy chart is complete, we can stand in awe, admire it, and abide by its perfect polynomial expression. Yes, I have come to appreciate the fact that algebra is in fact…beautiful.

So what would Mark Twain say? Of course, with all due respect, we leave the last word to Mr. Twain…

“Statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception. All war must be just the killing of strangers against whom you feel no personal animosity; strangers whom, in other circumstances, you would help if you found them in trouble, and who would help you if you needed it.”

There it is, wise words from the Moralist of the Main…

Audio: https://anchor.fm/mcavoy-layne

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PINE NUTS – What Would Mark Twain Say

December 20, 2023 | McAvoy Lane

McAvoy Layne is a 35-year Impressionist of Mark Twain

A very savvy businessman and longstanding pal, Dinger, suggested to me that I write about what I know about. For 24 years I have been writing about what I think about, yet 

the one thing I do know about, and perhaps the only thing I know about, is Mark Twain.

So, with Dinger’s sage advice in mind, I’m launching a podcast today, to answer tough questions from readers, first as Mark Twain, and also from his protagonist, yours truly… 

What Would Mark Twain Say?

Reader Question: “Is Joe Biden too old to serve a second term?”

Mark Twain: “No, Joe Biden is not too old to serve a second term. I have achieved my 188 years in the usual way; that is by sticking strictly to a scheme of life that would kill anybody else.  You cannot reach old age by another man’s road. My habits protect my life, while they would assassinate you.” 

McAvoy: “Yes, Joe Biden is too old to serve a second term. I speak only from experience, but confess that at 80 years of age myself, I could not effectively run a truck stop for more than four days, and Joe is older than I am.”

Reader Question: “Is Donald Trump fit to serve a second term?”

Mark Twain: “No, Donald Trump is not fit to serve another term as president. He was born hoggish after money, and today is effervescing the holy gas of pure unselfish patriotism. Well, the best of us would rather be popular than right.”

McAvoy: “Yes, Donald Trump is fit to serve a second term. If Donald Trump does in fact suffer from Mania Grandiosa, a sense of self-importance that surpasses all limits and is a documented mental illness, he could by all rights enter an insanity plea, walk freely out of court, and into the oval office.”

Reader Question: “Should we be preparing an Earthling epitaph?”

Mark Twain: “Epitaphs are cheap, and they do a poor chap a world of good after he is dead, especially if he had hard luck while he was alive. I have never seen what to me seemed an atom of proof that there is a future life. And yet I am strongly inclined to expect one. The important thing, the essential thing, is that we endeavor so to live, that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry. Anyway, the reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

McAvoy: “Sadly, noble folks with good intentions bequeathed us with weapons of defense and deterrence that in turn invite inadvertent escalation, and a possible Besom of Destruction.” 

Finally, it is befitting that we leave the last word to Mark Twain…

“No man is entirely in his right mind at any time. When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear, and life stands explained.”

Please join us next week for What Would Mark Twain Say? I’m McAvoy Layne.

Audio: https://anchor.fm/mcavoy-layne

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PINE NUTS – How Does She Do That?

December 13, 2023 | McAvoy Lane

I was delighted recently to receive a video of my 13-year-old granddaughter, Avery, executing a floor routine in a gymnastics meet, culminating in a full layout back-somersault that dropped my jaw…

My father was a gymnast, and I was a springboard diver, yet neither of us could ever have imagined executing a full-layout back-somersault on the ground.

Add to that amazing improvement in family stock the fact that Avery is getting good grades when my father used to give me a dollar for every C that I brought home on my report card. It’s heartening to see family stock improve so. Now we have to wonder why it is that the human family is not improving as quickly as the consanguineal family.

How is it that we still resort to warfare to solve our differences? This month’s Reagan 2023 National Defense Forum is studying, “The Future of Warfare,” and I imagine the delegates emerge from each day’s session with their hair standing straight up on end, because as we all know and dread, our next World War will rid the Earth of everything but cockroaches and a possible return of Beach Blanket Babylon. I guess the picking up of swords has always been, and will always be, easier than the laying down of swords.

Personally, I’m going to take a cue from Mark Twain when the next big war begins, and head for Cincinnati, because Cincinnati always has been, and always will be, twenty years behind the times. Old age has its advantages. Any rage that might be residing within the folds of our ancient brains is gradually replaced by folds of kindness and goodwill. I could no more kill a person for a perceived good reason today than I could tear a New York City phonebook in half. Do they have phonebooks in New York City?

My one claim to fame came to me in New York City while visiting there with a lady friend twenty years ago. I was waiting for an elevator when I overheard the hotel manager instructing a interior designer to change the upholstery on the furniture in that room to a more subtle, quieter blend. An hour later I found myself waiting for that same elevator with my lady friend and exclaimed to her that I thought the upholstery in that room was too noisy, and that I would suggest to management to change it to a more subtle, quieter motif. She commented that she didn’t know I was so in tune with interior design, and I accepted the compliment.

A few months later we returned to that same hotel, waited for the same elevator, and she was surprised to see that the furniture designs had been toned down. 

“Honey, look! They changed the room just like you had suggested.”

She might have some unkind words to say about me now that we are no longer together, but I imagine she might close with, “But boy, he sure does know his interior design!”

Audio: https://anchor.fm/mcavoy-layne

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PINE NUTS – Love Thy Mother

December 2, 2023 | McAvoy Lane

How much longer can Mother Earth sustain us? That is the question. Science forewarns us that our present rate of burning fossil fuels will soon elevate Earth’s temperature to above what we humans can tolerate, and we will be, toast. 

But help is on the way…sort of. It’s called the UN Climate Summit, and it has answers to save the planet. Implementing those answers, however, is another question. You see, every UN country must sign off on an agreement, and even then, that agreement is not legally binding.

As this layman sees it, the first glaring problem lies in the irony that the president of this year’s Climate Summit happens to be an oil executive, and not just any oil executive, but the CEO of one of the largest oil companies on the planet. This is akin to putting a wolf in charge of watching the sheep, and yet this Climate Summit is the only platform where diplomats, corporate leaders, sultans and presidents can gather together to effectively save us from turning ourselves into one humongous 4th of July sparkler. 

I hate to say it, but I imagine the last words ever heard from Planet Earth might very well be the same as those prophetic last words from Joan of Arc, “Is it hot in here or is it just me?”

We have an efficient early warning system in place with our billion-dollar climate disasters, collapsing biodiversity, melting glaciers, biblical floods, fires draughts and storms, but sadly, that is not enough early warning to convince us to take drastic actions that are necessary to stave off extinction. And we’re no Cinderella, as America is producing a record 13.2 million barrels a day, more than Russia or Saudi Arabia.

Personally, this is not how I want to go…I am sprinting ahead of a wildfire when I’m suddenly swept up in a flashflood and deposited out to sea with my hair on fire. Yet somehow that beats the slow-motion methane poisoning that is more probable.

But getting back to developing countries who are getting hit first and hardest by climate crisis, we, the biggest culprits, continue to short-sheet those poor countries and tell them they will be compensated. Well, a baby born today in any of those developing countries will be the oldest man in the world before he sees that compensation, and by then, it will be too late. So developing countries continue to suffer the worst consequences of climate change for which they did not create. 

Finally, the great mesh of life demands that we pull our heads out of the sand, stand up straight, look climate in the eye, and take steps necessary to save ourselves before it’s too late. Geopolitical climate control is not a zero-sum game. It’s time to grasp the urgency of the moment, and seize the dooda, as the saying is… 

Oh, and while I’m thinking about it, we had better draw down our nuclear arsenals before AI decides we are not worth saving, and we say, “Bye Bye Baby.”  

Audio: https://anchor.fm/mcavoy-layne

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PINE NUTS – Olympics 2023

November 25, 2023 | McAvoy Lane

We have had some wonderful traditions here in America that have fallen by the wayside. One that comes to mind, is a sweet and charming custom of the 1860 Hawaiian Islands, wherein all older women were called, “Mother.” A plantation worker who appealed to his Luna for a day off to bury his mother was always granted that day off. Mark Twain tells us of one plantation worker who appealed a second time for a day off to bury his mother, to wit the Luna protested, “I thought you buried your mother last week!”

“That was a…different mother.” 

Another tradition that is still remembered and brought up every two years, only to be serially dismissed, is The Olympic Truce, a mandate from the United Nations calling for a cessation of hostilities during the Olympic Games, to be held in Paris this summer. Do not cross your fingers, or you will end up cramping your fingers, without results.

You see, the International Olympic Committee brought up this resolution yet again at the United Nations last month and it was adopted with Russia and Syria abstaining. Did you hear the cheer? Me neither. Everybody knows The Olympic Truce Resolution is merely lip service, and has no teeth, only gums. Russia launched it’s assault on Ukraine while the Olympic Truce was still in effect. I’ll bet my golden gloves you didn’t know that. I sure didn’t. And what did the International Olympic Committee do?

On the day of Russia’s invasion, the IOC issued a condemnation, stripped President Putin of his perks, and turned away Russian and Belarusian athletes from the Paralympic Games. Imagine being a well-trained wheelchair athlete, and being turned away from the Olympics because of the belligerence of a politician. What a damn shame, not to forget the Ukrainians and Russians who have lost their lives.

On the upside, it looks like Russian and Syrian athletes who qualify for the Games this summer will compete as independent athletes, not representing any country. I can hear the Olympic announcer now, “And the winner of the gold medal in the women’s Olympic shot put is Tamara Press, representing…Tamara Press.”

Tamara Press, by the way, did win gold for Russia in the 1964 Tokyo Games. I was there, as a spectator, and had to laugh when she was given the nickname, “Baby Doll,” by American wags who thought she was a he.

Political competition will always get in the way of athletic competition, and the usual suspects are politicians who cannot run around the block.

I might have competed in those ’64 Games myself, and met Tamara Press, had I not stopped on Bourbon Street along my way to the Olympic Trials. But now, having given it much thought, I would like to humbly suggest to the Olympic Committee that they emblazon “Halt Hostilities” on all Olympic signage, symbols and merchandise. Hey, it can’t hurt, and it might even help…

Audio: https://anchor.fm/mcavoy-layne

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PINE NUTS – A Mother’s Wisdom

November 16, 2023 | McAvoy Lane

Thanksgiving 2023

A young son is watching the TV news with his father… 

“Dad, how come all their houses are broken?”

“They are at war, Son.”

“Why?”

“Go ask your mother.”

“Mom, why are all their houses broken?”

“They are at war, Son.”

“Why?”

“Go ask your father.”

“He told me to ask you.”

“Alright then, I’ll tell you why their houses are broken. You see, Honey, grown men have this thing called testosterone. It’s a hormone that brings out the very best, and sometimes the very worst in men. Excess testosterone can cause package rage that can escalate into road rage, and escalate yet again into internecine warfare, and the breaking of houses.

“Do I have testosterone, Mom?”

“No, Honey, but you will soon enough, and it’s your father’s and my responsibility to raise you in an environment that will inspire you to become a clarion call for harmony between neighbors…all neighbors.”

As her son leaves the room, she finishes her thoughts by talking to herself…

“Dr. Martin Luther King told us, ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.’ Yet this recent spike in human depravity is demonstrating that justice is not inevitable. If we presume that progress is perpetual, well, we are going to fail.  

Each generation, in its turn, is responsible for maintaining the peace, as there will always be belligerents to muddy our otherwise pristine political waters. So it becomes each generation’s responsibility to keep our waters drinkable, or ‘potable’ as the saying is, though I don’t cotton to that particular word. To my mind, a potty-trained child could be called, ‘potable,’ not drinking water. And while I’m thinking of it, it seems to me that, ‘a temporary cease-fire,’ or ‘a limited pause in fighting’ are sanitized terms for, ‘temporary interruption in senseless killing.’ Just as ‘collateral damage’ is a nice clean term for, ‘Woops, sorry we murdered you, but you should have gotten out of the way.’

Warfare is so below us, and should be so far behind us as to be unfathomable, and yet we continue to find reasons to kill each other in the name of one god or another, one politic or another, one misplaced hatred or another. My grandmother used to have an expression that she would use on me when I came crying to her for a third time in an hour, ‘Oh, dry up!’ And I guess that is my mantra to those who feel a need to declare war or fight a war, ‘Oh, dry up!’ I can’t say it like my grandmother could say it, so that it carries the perfect pitch of authority and affection, but it will just have to do for now.”

Satisfied that she had solved the world’s troubles, our mother’s thoughts return to her Thanksgiving dinner…

“Let’s see, I better replace this kitchen sponge, for this one, like artificial intelligence, is about ready to get up and walk out of here on its own.”

Audio: https://anchor.fm/mcavoy-layne

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