In early February 2020, Ted and I scheduled our next overseas vacation. Our plan was to arrive in South America on February 14, 2021 and to return home on March 16. Our first scheduled destination was a few days in Peru, including an excursion to Machu Picchu. After that, we were going to cruise our way around the continent, stopping in a variety of places in Chile (including Patagonia), Argentina, and Uruguay. Today, we would have been in Buenos Aires, and tomorrow we were scheduled to return to Patagonia for an additional five days in that area. Thanks to the pandemic, our travels this year were far more modest. The farthest we’ve been from home since we returned from Australia on January 15, 2020 was Kirksville, MO where we spent a day with Kathy and Annette in August.

This is beginning to look tempting.

I know this pain. The cure? Avoid reading book series; stick to stand-alone stories.

P.S. Once I read a book review that said something like “A new Jude Devereaux book is out. There’s a late night ahead.” Yes, I’ve done that, and not only with Jude Devereaux.

I’ve had both of my COVID vaccinations and Ted has had his first. We were lucky in scheduling our vaccinations. Our doctor’s health system contacted us and provided a number to call. When we called, we were scheduled within a few days and when we had our first inoculation, we were immediately scheduled for the second one to be administered in three weeks. From what I’ve been reading, the scenario below is more common.

This reminded me of how Ted and I felt last week when we wanted to go out to lunch.

Maybe federal regulation of utilities isn’t all bad. Texans suffered greatly during the recent winter storms, due in large part to planning and operational failures among Texas utility companies.

Yesterday, Hasbro announced that it is neutralizing Mr. Potato Head. Hasbro’s senior vice president and general manager announced, “The way the brand currently exists—with the ‘Mr.’ and ‘Mrs.’—is limiting when it comes to both gender identity and family structure.”

The outcry was loud:

Dr. D exclaimed, “For crying out loud–it’s a potato! It doesn’t have a gender!”

Media analyst Mark Dice tweeted, “It’s time for the Republican states to secede.”

Piers-Morgan tweeted, “Who was actually offended by Mr Potato Head being male? I want names. These woke imbeciles are destroying the world.”

Steven Colbert’s segment on Hasbro’s announcement asked, “What part of this do you see as gender-based?”

Sean Hannity tweeted, “MR POTATO HEAD 1953-2021, Hasbro: He Was ‘Limited When It Comes to Gender Identity’.” After Hasbro clarified that only the “Mr.” is being removed from the name and that Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head will be continue to be available as “just plain ‘Potato Head’,” Hannity responded, “Mr. Potato Head Lives!”

Long live non-gender potatoes!

Author’s note: When I was growing up, our Mr. Potato Head toy required actual potatoes; thus, the name of the toy. Complaints about rotten vegetables plus new government food safety rules prompted Hasbro to include a plastic potato body along with the facial parts in 1964.

Bernie Sanders’ mittens were the talk of the Presidential inauguration and they’re old news now, but I saw this meme and couldn’t help smiling.

“Nobody puts Bernie in a corner.”

Will he dance with Patrick Swayze?

Tonight’s edition of CBS Evening News included a report about a Georgia artist who is making custom masks for his community. Here are some of his masks that were featured on the news report. The first two pictures are the artist.

It would be hard not to smile while talking with these two people.

During his interview with the CBS reporter, the artist offered the reporter a custom mask. Here is the reporter–before and after. The after is definitely more fun.

My Aunt Ruth sent another humor email today. She’s doing her best to keep those on her distribution list happy.

Again, thank you, Aunt Ruth for scrounging the internet for humor to make us laugh. Aunt Ruth and I are both natural blondes, so we’re allowed to share dumb blonde jokes.

My Aunt Ruth spends a lot of time on the internet and finds a lot of funny cartoons. I enjoy seeing and sharing them. Read on, smile, and maybe even laugh out loud.

Here are some COVID-themed smiles.

Correction: That “tiger” is a heifer, not a cow (not fully grown, no udder) but I guess the photographer didn’t know the difference. Here’s some non-COVID humor.

I saved the best for last. This is my favorite.

Trevor Noah’s Daily (Social Distancing) Show included a possible upcoming change in education as a result of COVID-19: the Zoomstitute teacher.

He featured six kinds of substitutes students could expect in their Zoom classrooms. There was the “always running 30 minutes late” Zoomstitute. That would be the blank square.

Another Zoomstitute was the substitute who’s always on his/her phone (top square). He ignored the students and when one asked, “Shouldn’t we be doing something?” he replied, “Ah, yeah, sure” and went back to his phone.

The “still living in the past” Zoomstitute talked about how he “almost” made the tennis championships, but got a cramp in his foot and had to stop playing.

Zoomstitute. Coming soon to a classroom near you?

It was only a matter of time before people cooped up in their homes turned to Facebook to post Covid-19 memes. These were posted by Ted’s FB friends. I apologize for the cut-off letters, but that’s how they appeared on FB. Think of it as your challenge for the day to complete the words. With that said, are you ready for some laughs? Let’s go!

There’s a whole series on cats.

A few of the memes refer to Covid-19 in general.

It’s no surprise that most of the memes address toilet paper hoarding and shortages.

2020 U.S. census forms were mailed yesterday and will be in a mailbox near you soon. How will you respond?

While we were cleaning the basement storage room shelves, we found some interesting things. For years, I’ve put “special” greeting cards in boxes because they were important to me. I discovered six boxes of “special” cards! I think my definition of special broadened considerably over the years. I went through all six boxes and saved less than one boxful according to my revised, narrower definition of special. One of the things I found with the cards was an old Erma Bombeck column from the newspaper. Anyone with three or more children will appreciate Erma’s accuracy. Thom and Kari, the proof is in your baby books.

I closed my Facebook account about a year ago and don’t miss it. Ted still uses Facebook and, every now and then, he shows me some cute posts. These were fun.

Today, Grumpy Cat died at the age of 7. Her real name was Tardar Sauce. She probably had a form of dwarfism that gave her large eyes, a downturned mouth, and a small body (less than 5 pounds). After an appearance on Reddit, she went viral on social media and was a popular meme. She became so popular, she actually had a publicist. She appeared in advertising (Friskies cat food, Honey Nut Cheerios, and more) as well as in books, movies, and a video game. Her image was sold on t-shirts and mugs and as a stuffed toy. In addition, she was the first feline to be included in Madame Taussaud’s wax museum collection. Grumpy Cat reportedly said, “It’s an honor. I hate it.” Below are a few of the most popular Grumpy Cat memes I found online.

Remember those down-filled swimsuits I saw in an Eddie Bauer ad? One of my select readers (Thom) tactfully mentioned to me that, in recent years, a lot of companies publish spoof ads on April 1, just for the fun of it. Duh! I’m so literal-minded, I didn’t even think about what day it was when I saw that ad!

How do you spell gullible?

I saw an Eddie Bauer ad for thermal swimsuits. Ted and I don’t swim in our pool after early or mid-October (depending on the weather) because, even with heated water, the air is really chilly when we leave the water. I don’t think an insulated swimsuit will help my exposed skin, so I’m pretty sure I won’t be one of the delighted swimsuit buyers who must get into that alpine lake for an icy polar plunge.

On “The Late Show, ” Steven Colbert reported that an Italian firm has designed stand-up airplane seats.

Colbert pointed out that, if you’re standing up, it’s not a seat.

He added that the only remaining way to cram more people on an airplane would be to put everyone in a pile. Do you think first class would be on the top, or would they get on first, like they do now?

The good thing about the pile? No seat belts needed.

My brother Steve sent this so I’ll know what’s going on in the world tonight.

Ted and I have Sirius XM radio in our cars. As we were driving, we clicked on Channel 5–the “50s on 5” station where they play music from the 1950s. (Guess what they play on Channels 6, 7, and 8.) There are no commercials and no D.J.s on the 50s channel, but they do station IDs. This one said:

“With songs like these, . . .” (followed by one-line musical excerpts from Chances Are, Earth Angel, and I Love How You Love Me) “. . . it’s no wonder there was a baby boom.”

Happy Valentine’s Day.