Sunday, July 31, 2016

A Sunday Grump

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My wife got to feeling badly at Chinamart yesterday, so we didn’t get nearly everything that we needed. As a result, we had to go back today, but we went to the one across town. Crossing the tributary river to the Ohio on the way, I noticed it was muddy to the nth degree. It drains mostly woodlands, rather than cropland, but it muddies with the least rain of any stream I know. It’s like they used to say about the Missouri, “too thick to drink and too thin to plow.”

People everywhere are getting ruder and more low class, but it’s amazing the difference in people from just one local area to another. The other Chinamart is located sort of between the county seat and a slightly better off community to the north. People there often aren’t what they were 20 years ago, but they aren’t too bad yet either, comparatively speaking. Crossing the tributary river makes an obvious difference, though. The folks over there, on average, seem to be down a couple steps in couth from the other store location. They are much more likely to steal your cart, walk in front of you, and hog aisles. Plus, they rarely use the words “excuse me, please, thank you” and “you’re welcome.” Not everyone from that area is like that, of course, but I’m speaking on the average.

I once told a local college professor that, put in a room of locals, I could probably pick out the folks from that end of town within five minutes. He acted insulted and asked how I could do that. I told him that the guys, at least, tended to be ruder, cruder and louder. He then smiled and said that he had to agree, but just wondered what I’d say. Sadly, the folks on the other end of town are trying hard to reach that level of rudeness.

My wife and I both have to use the electric carts anymore, due to hip problems. Unfortunately, not only does Chinamart not have enough handicapped spaces, they don’t have enough carts either. The baby-boomers are getting old quickly, and most stores aren’t keeping up. The other day, I retrieved and plugged in three carts before I found one with enough charge to use. Many don’t work right when you DO get them. I had one go south on me at the very back of the store the other day. Luckily, I can still hobble along when necessary.

As I often do, I looked at the tools today. I spent most of my life using hand tools, so they still hold interest for me, especially since I used to work in a factory that made them. The current version of the Ames single-bitted axe stocked by Chinamart is a doozy. It has a thick blade that measures a quarter inch thick within a half inch of the toe and a quarter inch of the heel. Maybe it would work for splitting firewood, but I doubt it. It sure as heck couldn’t be used for chopping. The head had a really rough finish like it was either cast steel or the dies in the forge had a really crude finish. It was made in India. The plastic handle must have been made in America, since a little label said “assembled in America of foreign and domestic parts.”


I hate spending time at Chinamart, but the missus does the shopping and she says that we can’t afford to shop anywhere else. She’s probably right, unfortunately. Still, if she would go before me, I’d probably never darken their door again. © 2016
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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Research Is Complete

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I'd asked my stepson if he'd ask my 9-year-old granddaughter (by him) how many of the songs I listed from my childhood that she knew. I was surprised how many she knew, but also WHICH ONES she knew and which she didn't. The list is below, and the ones she knew are in bold.

Who’s in the Kitchen with Dina?
Wreck of the Old 97
The Ballad of Casey Jones
The Ballad of John Henry
Goober Peas
Skip to my Lou
Red River Valley
America the Beautiful
Star Spangled Banner
Old Joe Clark
Little Liza Jane
Goodbye Old Paint
Battle Hymn of the Republic
Oh Shenandoah
Oh My Darling Clementine
Oh The West Virginia Hills
God Bless America
Blue-Tailed Fly
Jim Along Josie
Dixie
La Cucaracha
Three Spanish Galleons
Hot Tortillas
Allouette
Las Chiapanecas
Nelly Bly
Grandfather’s Clock
I’ve Been Working on the Railroad
Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair
My Old Kentucky home
Old Folks at Home
Hail Columbia Gem of the Ocean
The Caisson Song
Anchors Away
The U.S. Air Force Song
The Marine Hymn
Oh, Susanna
Wait for the Wagon
Down in the Valley
Row-Row Your Boat
Old MacDonald
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Milestones

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I had two errands to run this morning. First, I went to get set up with my CPAP machine. The letters stand for “continuous positive airway pressure.” I’ll be using it for the first time tonight. It will supposedly make things easier on my heart, lower my blood pressure, and MAYBE give me more energy. I hope it does. The doctor said that my apnea wasn’t bad, but that I’d still benefit from the machine. I’ve been snoring for 40 years, so I may have had apnea for that long. If so, that may be a lot of what put me in the shape I’m in.

The second errand was delivering a written resignation at the trucking company where I worked, so they could take my name off of the driving roster. I’d kept hoping that my strength would return and I could go back to work, but I finally had to give up on that little dream. I’m officially retired from full-time work at this point, but I can’t say that I’m entirely happy about it. I wasn’t doing all that well financially when I was working; now we’ll have to try surviving on half that amount.

I really enjoyed driving a dump truck and saw some sites and went some places that I never would have seen otherwise. While I don’t miss getting up at 4:30 in the morning, I DO miss the morning bull sessions before work and I miss the driving more than I ever imagined that I would. I was treated well at the company, with the exception of one troubled fellow, but I received NOT ONE call, visit or card from my bosses during the ten months that I’ve been off, so I guess I know my true value to them. I DID get two calls from one of the secretaries, but I think she was put up to it the second time.

Things have been slow around here in the construction business, and that secretary told me that there had only been two weeks this year when at least one person didn’t get a low-earnings slip with their paycheck. She told me that I haven’t missed all that much, work-wise. I’d noticed a lot of trucks still sitting in the yard on the few occasions that I’d driven by the place.


Oh well, I have some pleasant memories of my time there; but life moves on. There are still things that I might be able to do to raise a few bucks, and I don’t mean just thinning my stuff down by selling unneeded items. I also have what could be called “hobby interests” to keep my mind occupied, so I’ll be fine. Since I can’t deal physically with some of the maintenance around here, we’ll probably consider selling out more seriously. 

I used to look forward to retirement, but not under THESE circumstances. Whatever happens, life will be different, that’s for sure. © 2016
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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Change In The Weather

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For better or worse, we put a wireless doorbell in my bedroom so my wife can ring for me if the Mighty Dachshund needs to pee in the night. Some nights, though, I wake up between 4 and 5 o’clock and go ahead and put her out, as I did this morning. I usually sleep very late of a morning during this horrid weather we’ve been having. Not this morning though. At 8:30, my doorbell rang. I asked from the top of the stairs what was wrong, since my wife usually puts the pooch out before I get up, as long as it’s daylight. The missus told me that the pooch needed to poop. SOMEHOW, I have become the “poopee” for the furry little “pooper.” The missus seems to think the task beneath her, probably because we wipe her off afterward to be sure she doesn’t drag anything onto the carpet. (Ah, I mean the dog, not the missus.)

Knowing full well that it was probably bogus, I went downstairs and dutifully took out the little bugger. She dropped immediately on getting all four feet on the ground and drained by the front step for what seemed like an eternity. I then walked her over to her “dumping ground” and asked if she needed to poop. She just looked up at me like I’d asked a silly question and stood there for 2-3 minutes just listening and sniffing the breeze. After several more such questions, she finally looked at me in obvious disgust and assumed the position. Despite her apparent lack of desperation, she did leave a healthy deposit behind her. It would seem that she really only needed to pee, and did the other just to shut me up. Even just standing there with her, the humidity had sweat beading on me anywhere that I had bare skin.

It was 86 when we left for the mall about one o’clock (about 6-10 degrees cooler than it has been), but the humidity made it feel like a sauna outside. Nothing new; it’s felt like that for a week. It was 90 in the parking lot, so I had to let the AC run on the truck as my wife took her round inside. That being the case, I decided to keep the truck moving and so, did a slow reconnaissance of the area for possible wild edibles. I found some places to look for poke next spring, but nothing else.

Once home, we had a storm about 3 and about a half hour of moderate rain. About 6, we had a lesser storm, but about an hour of gentle rain. Toward the end of it, I went out on the porch and sat in the swing a while. It seemed to continue sprinkling for a long time after the actual rain quit. A slight breeze arose, shaking the tree leaves just enough to make it sound like the rain was picking up, though it wasn’t. Both the humidity and the temperature were reduced by the rain, and it was almost comfortable outside when I went in the house about six fingers from sunset.

The week ahead is supposed to be a bit rainy and 5-10 degrees cooler than last week. I can use the cooler temps and the ground can use the rain. Dog days go out the 11th, so things MIGHT cool a little more then. I hate to sound ungrateful, but I long for fall. It won’t be long; the ironweeds are starting to bloom, along with the Joe Pye weeds. Before you know it, the goldenrods will be blooming. Already, the forest green of the woods is starting to be polka-dotted with an occasional speck of yellow. I hate to wish my already too-short life away, but I can’t wait to see the leaves start turning. For now, though, I’ll just settle for more seasonable weather. © 2016
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Monday, July 25, 2016

Concerning That Last Post

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For those who only scanned the article, Euripides isn't saying that we're stupid, he's just mentioning studies done by liberals trying to prove that we are. The problem that liberals can't fathom is that conservatives and liberals disagree mostly on social and therefore (anymore) political issues. Though the liberals probably wouldn't admit it, nearly all of these issues are MORAL issues at heart. Unfortunately, moral issues require morals on the part of those involved to be wisely decided, and a large segment of society no longer has morals of ANY kind. Liberals will, of course, be offended by that statement since it will by nature include THEM. Liberals like to think that they are the most moral folks on the planet, but they're actually the LEAST, by and large. The reason that I say that is that there ARE no morals without GOD!

How does that figure in, you may ask? Well liberal morals are based solely on the opinions of man, or what is called humanism. These embrace the idea that man is basically good and that he can solve all moral dilemmas by applying what is good for the greatest number of people or "the common good"
to every problem.

The problem is that so many folks disagree over what really constitutes the common good. Naturally, each liberal person thinks that they have a corner on the market on what makes the common good, because they have such high moral standards! But, I state again that barring GOD from the equation leaves no morals at all. Liberal "morals" are simply their OPINION of right and wrong. They don't agree even among themselves, proving once again that they have opinions only, not morals. Opinions are a dime a dozen. In fact, there's an old vulgarism about opinions that states that "opinions are like _ssholes, we all have them and they all stink."

They'll say that something is wrong because it hurts other people. The weakness with that argument is that they often can't even agree among themselves what hurt is, plus, they deny (or don't care) that the situation may cause much good for others. Even if it does cause hurt, why would someone who believes that man is inherently good believe that the robber's or rapist's "needs" don't matter. Obviously THEY didn't see anything wrong with what they did. Once again, we have conflicting opinions!

The only way to have a moral decision is, firstly, it must come from an unbiased source. Anyone who either benefits or suffers from a situation CANNOT make an unbiased decision. Secondly, it needs to come from a higher source than man, or it remains JUST AN OPINION. Only the One who created those on both, or every, side of an issue has the moral high ground to decide right and wrong - Almighty GOD! Conservatives generally acknowledge this fact, liberals do not. For proof, look only at the 2012 Democratic Convention when booing began EVERY time that God was mentioned.

In essence, liberals are in rebellion against God, Therefore, they have no position from which to make ANY moral decision. © 2016
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Sunday, July 24, 2016

I Splurged (w/pic)

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Click image to enlarge.


In this photo, you’ll see my latest acquisitions. Fiskars used to be a good brand, but I got these in Chinamart, so naturally they were made in China. The bow saw is a 21 inch and the folder is what I’d call 6-1/2 inch (of teeth). I got tired of trying to make do with the soft metal of the bow saw blades carried by ACE Hardware, and my regular (antique) pruning saw is on my bench, disassembled, ready to be refurbished a bit. SO, since I have a little work I wish to do before dog days end, I decided to splurge a little. The saws ran about $10 each, and while the bow saw has hardened teeth, the folder should be sharpenable. I like having a folder that fits in my jeans pocket. I actually have another one, but it’s in my “emergency” box in my truck, and I didn’t want to have to dig it out every time I wanted one. Pretend you don’t see the cookie crumb. Sometimes the Mighty Dachshund gets a bit sloppy. © 2016
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Friday, July 22, 2016

My Hell-Bound Irish Friend

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I don’t even know how to get in touch with “Rick,” but he used to be a “work friend” back in my telemarketing days. I hadn’t seen him for several years, but I bumped into him at Chinamart the other day and we had a nice conversation. Rick was pretty popular with most of his coworkers. He certainly projected a recognizable image. He stood about six feet tall and had Guy Fieri hair long before anyone ever heard of Guy Fieri. He often wore a leather jacket, boots, and sun glasses. He had multiple tattoos and body piercings and sang with what I’m tempted to call a punk rock band, though I’m no expert on rock music classification.

Rick was born on the Emerald Isle, but his mother, soon moved to England. I believe he lived in both Birmingham and London, but mostly London. His mum wasn’t well off, so I think they lived in the poorer sections of town and Rick sort of grew up on the streets and reached his adulthood doing what most poor city kids do, drinking, partying, dancing, and probably fighting on occasion. Still, Rick was a jovial soul, so I suspect that he was as popular there as here. Somewhere along the way, he became an honest-to-gosh stone mason of the old school. That always sort of impressed me, since it’s a dying art over here. I think he moved here because he married an American girl. I’m not sure how he ended up in telemarketing, but his good manners, smooth voice and English accent served him well, especially with the ladies.

Rick had a tiny bit of burr up his backside about church, Christians and Christianity, though. He was polite, but firm; he wanted no part of any such thing. Usually, such folks have been badly mistreated by so-called Christians. In his case, I think it was actually his mother who suffered some sort of self-righteous abuse at their hands, so she avoided church from then on. In the process, she raised a son with no respect for anything Christian. He wasn’t out to change anyone else’s opinion; he just wanted no part of it himself.

It’s hard to get such folks to understand that many people who CALL themselves Christians actually are not, and that even sincere Christians are too often far from perfect. I tried on occasion to talk to him about the Lord, but to no avail. He was simply closed to the subject, though never rude. After out little visit was about over the other day, I asked if he’d ever given the Lord a chance to work in his life, but once again, I got the jovial brush-off. His little girl was with him, so I didn’t push the issue, but I told him that I was very happy to have seen him and that I’d be praying for him. That doesn’t seem to insult him, I’ve learned.

I really like Rick. I wish I knew that I would see him again in the next life, but unless he makes peace with Jesus and accepts Him as his savior, it’s not going to happen. Rick’s a good guy in the worldly sense, but that’s not enough. NONE of us are good enough to reach heaven without accepting the fact that we can’t do it on our own, and that only the blood of Jesus can wash us clean enough to enter. I hope my Christian friends will say a prayer for Rick. You don’t know him, but the Lord does. Thanks. © 2016
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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Grade School Songs Added By The Guru

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Oh Susanna
Animal Fair (I went to the Animal Fair, the birds and the beasts were there)
Botany Bay (Oh, there's Glasgow and Berwick and Penterville, ....)
Wait for the Wagon
Down in the Valley
Row-Row Your Boat
Old MacDonald

I don't think that I remember the second and third
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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Songs That I Remember From Grade School

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I went to a three room country school the first five grades, and one thing we had at least once a week was singing. I can't remember all the songs we sang, but here's a list of the ones that I DO remember. They would be considered folks songs by most. One thing they did was instill a sense of history in us without us even thinking about it. I guess the lyrics were altered a bit on some songs to make them more suitable for kids, but they weren't changed a lot.

I was watching a Memorial Day show from DC recently and was sorely disappointed at the modern version of the army song. It turns out that I learned a slightly sanitized version of the original song, while the song was rewritten in 1953 as it is currently used. While they feel that the new version gives a broader view of the army's history, the original history of the song is completely lost. I think they should have just written a whole new song, rather than ruin the old one.

Regardless, here are the songs I remember. Some can be found by googling them. Others seem lost to history. Feel free to mention songs that YOU remember!

Who’s in the Kitchen with Dina?
Wreck of the Old 97
The Ballad of Casey Jones
The Ballad of John Henry
Goober Peas
Skip to my Lou
Red River Valley
America the Beautiful
Star Spangled Banner
Old Joe Clark
Little Liza Jane
Goodbye Old Paint
Battle Hymn of the Republic
Oh Shenandoah
Oh My Darling Clementine
Oh The West Virginia Hills
God Bless America
Blue-Tailed Fly
Jim Along Josie
Dixie
La Cucaracha
Three Spanish Galleons
Hot Tortillas
Allouette
Las Chiapanecas
Nelly Bly
Grandfather’s Clock
I’ve Been Working on the Railroad
Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair
My Old Kentucky home
Old Folks at Home
Hail Columbia Gem of the Ocean
The Caisson Song
Anchors Away
The U.S. Air Force Song
The Marine Hymn
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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Sounds Of Shifting

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Have you ever heard your house creak and groan for no apparent reason? No, it’s not ghosts. It’s just that most houses are built largely of wood, and wood is sometimes called a “living thing,” even after it’s cut, dried and fastened in place. The reason is that wood changes size as the humidity and temperature changes. When things are fastened together, yet are changing size, something is bound to give a little, and when they do, we hear those creaks and groans. Wind can also move things around a little, too.

I remember coming home from work at four in the morning once and hearing someone walk the entire length of my upstairs. It sounded so convincing that I investigated with a shotgun. What caused it, though, was that my woodstove was running low and a cold front had just blown in and my house was shrinking. (Or maybe it was shivering!)

Another example was this morning, when I took the trash out to the road. I laid the two black bags near the back of the truck, so I could raise the tonneau and drop the tailgate. The bright sunshine caused immediate warming inside the bags and several plastic bottles popped and crackled as the air in them expanded.

There is another example of shifting things making noises that is a little more disconcerting to me. Almost every night, my entrance into bed begins a long, drawn out adjustment in my body. A day of compaction by gravity on my vertical frame is slowly released and my joints loosen up and expand lineally. Hip joints, shoulders, elbows, and seemingly every vertebra from backside to skull pops, clicks or clunks as it slides into new-found freedom.

The shifts are not only heard but felt, though it’s not what I’d call painful. This would be bad enough if it happened all at once, but it doesn’t. No, each joint moves only in its own good time. As a result, every few seconds for several minutes, I feel something move and hear it click or clunk into its new position. Sometimes, it actually interferes with me going to sleep for a while. I could be wrong, but I think it’s gotten worse now that I can’t afford the expensive supplements for my joints and since I’m on water pills.

I guess I shouldn’t complain. As with my aging house, I guess it’s a sign that I’m still standing, figuratively at least. © 2016
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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Who’s Foolin’ Who?

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My wife and I like to watch “The Alaskan Bush People.” We know that it’s only partly true and the rest bogus, but it’s clean and is entertaining. There are times, though, that I really do wonder just who’s fooling who. The other night, the show had two brothers going grouse hunting. Fine and good until they started talking about “tracking grouse.” Now the area where they were was a mixture of gravel road, surrounded by a mixture of tall-grass fields and forest land with umpteen inches of duff atop the soil. Anything less than 50 pounds probably wouldn’t have leave a track at all. Grouse weigh a pound or so. Get the idea?

What really cracked me up was when, even after mentioning several times that male grouse “drum” to attract a mate (though they didn’t seem to know to use the term), one of the boys said that the male grouse flies up to a high tree limb and HOWLS to attract a mate. I cracked up. I don’t know if he was just trying to be humorous, was trying to fool the camera man, or was trying to fool the viewers. I do know that he didn’t fool any country folks or grouse hunters.


With TV being as worthless as it is these days, I guess I should just take my laughs where I can get them! (So I do.) © 2016
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What It Will Take To Stop Terrorism

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I’ve written on this before, but it’s been a long time.

A neighbor of mine was a sniper in Vietnam. The price on the head of any sniper was $20,000 dollars; the price the Cong would pay for his gun was $25,000. Understandably, it was a dangerous job.

He quickly learned something. When he had to go on patrol with American troops and those troops came under fire, they would return fire until the Cong quit shooting. When the Cong stopped, they figured the episode was over.

When he went out with a Korean patrol (part of UN forces there) and they’d come under fire, they would also keep firing until the Cong stopped. The difference was what they did next. They would go to the closest village and kill every man, woman and child. They would even kill the animals, so they couldn’t be used by other Cong. After a few times, the Koreans could travel the country at will unmolested by enemy fire. Needless to say, my neighbor soon preferred to travel with Koreans.

And THAT my friend, is what it takes to win against terrorists. You must meet barbarism with overwhelming barbarism in return. Only then will the terrorists decide it’s not worth it. If we would bomb into oblivion the entire home-town of any terrorist caught in the act, terrorism would soon stop.

Unfortunately, western civilization doesn’t seem to have the stomach for doing what is necessary, so the terrorists continue to win. © 2016
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Thursday, July 14, 2016

What A Place For A Bite!

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As I was driving along flapping my gums to my wife yesterday, I seemed to choke over a crumb. I’d eaten something just recently, but that particular crumb seemed to stay put and only moved from the back of my mouth to the left of the entrance of my throat only with much coughing and gargling of water. There, it seemed to reattach for a while.

Once home, I noticed some swelling and unsuccessfully prodded around with both ends of a toothbrush to see if I could feel anything. As the swelling grew worse, I began gargling with salt water, thinking that I might have scratched my throat with the toothbrush. When I finally went to bed about 11:30, I took a couple Tylenol and a couple Chlortabs. Having slight difficulty breathing, and much difficulty swallowing, I stayed awake until three o’clock, at which time I arose.

Downstairs, I took a couple aspirin and watched some lousy TV with my wife for an hour. Then I took another Chlortab, showered in expectation of going to a quick med place at eight, and went online for a while. By 5 o’clock, I noticed that the swelling was going down some, so I went back to bed and finally managed to fall asleep. When I got up the final time, about 9:30, the swelling was down considerably, but had settled into my voice-box, making me hoarse. And so I’ve been all day. I decided not to go to the quick med place.

When I looked into the very back of my mouth, I saw a red spot. Crumbs don’t make red spots, or make your throat swell, so I deduced that SOMETHING had bitten me INSIDE my mouth. Had it been hard-shelled, I’m sure that I would have felt it, so it must have been something soft. A lot of spiders have been hatching around here lately, so I think that in my blabbing, I sucked in a tiny spider, which then nailed me in the back of the mouth. It’s not an experience that I’d care to repeat.


I’m going to hit the hay soon, so I just took another Chlortab, and will take some aspirin before going upstairs. Being on blood thinner, I hate to take aspirin, lest I pee some blood, but I figure it’s worth the chance to get the swelling down a little more. I guess that’s what I get for talking so much! © 2016
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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Friends, Romans, Non-Christians…

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Sometimes, we look around us and think the world has gone mad. Perhaps it has, but perhaps our vision is merely too limited. It must have seemed like the world was ending to those immediately affected by World War II, when a hate-filled madman was conquering Europe and Japanese imperialists were raping and ravaging the orient. It must have seemed likewise during World War I to the people affected. Many of our own citizens thought similarly during the great Uncivil War, The War of 1812 and the American Revolution when they saw the people around them murdered and their homes and cities destroyed.

Indeed, the history of mankind is the history of man’s inhumanity to man. There has always been hatred, inequality, greed, war, murder, rape, robbery, tyranny, lies and apathy. Few people have cared much except for themselves and MAYBE their families. If you happened to be royalty, your nights would often be filled with planning how to murder your own relatives before they murdered you. The leadership of nations was decided not by elections, but by who had the sharpest sword, or who could muster the most men to fight. The wisest man who ever lived is said to be Solomon, who lived about 3000 years ago; he said that there was NOTHING new under the sun. In other words, the world isn’t going mad, it’s always been mad.

The problem is that there are two warring forces in the universe. One is good, the other evil. It’s not like Star Wars, where both good and evil can tie into a single powerful but neutral force. These forces themselves are good and evil. Most religions of the world understand this. Many individuals do not, because these forces are both normally invisible, so “scientifically-minded” folks refuse to believe in them. Strangely, they can’t see the wind either, but they believe in it.

Good and evil are both laughed at today, and one is often confused with the other by ignorant or evil people. Yet, there are games galore where the forces of evil and good collide that some folks are absolutely fanatical over, while still denying the REAL realms of good and evil. Our politicians and news media now worship at the throne of evil and common citizens seem to think that two wrongs now make a right. The world IS indeed mad.

Only by aligning with the good force will you find any peace, but most people refuse. That force is Yahweh and His son Yeshua, otherwise known as God and Jesus Christ. If you seek Him honestly, His Holy Spirit will guide you to a saving knowledge of Yeshua. If you are up in years, please accept the Savior, before you end up going to Hell. If you’re younger, please accept Him before you go crazy (and THEN to Hell). We are told that the fear (respect) of the Lord is the BEGINNING of knowledge. Without that, you have NOTHING. Please make a move now, before it’s forever too late.
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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Confessions

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Some of you know that I have an ornery streak. Some of you may even remember that I’ve told you that it used to be worse than it is. Well, it used to be even worse than I’ve told. Back in high school, I was entirely too ornery (read “sinful”) for my own good. My mind wasn’t exactly what you might call “turned to Godly things.” Now I wasn’t extremely foul-mouthed, but I was a little bit and despite having been raised in a Christian home, I LOVED to poke fun at some Christian kids who were overly impressed with their own righteousness. Two girls come first to mind.

The first girl, I’ll call “Jackie.” She was the younger sister of a friend of mine. She could be sweet and kind and polite and all those virtuous things. Indeed, she was the epitome of a “nice girl.” The problem was, NO-ONE knew better than her just what a nice girl she was! Now, my way of dealing with such girls was to speak in double entendre almost constantly. While my words were all innocent-sounding if taken literally, they could have some very ornery meanings, even nasty and foul sometimes, IF you took them figuratively. Invariably, that’s the way Jackie took them. She would grow increasingly agitated with me until she would often simply tell me to leave. (Who could blame her?) After this went on quite a while, she got REALLY “righteous” with me a time or two, and I REALLY got her goat. I reminded her that if I was being as nasty as she thought, she wouldn’t even know it if her mind was as pure as she let on.

That pretty-much ended the slightest possibility that we could ever be any sort of friends. But I finally backed off and we were able to be civil with one another until our paths quit crossing. She went on to marry a very nice guy, and I’m sure they have nice kids. At this point, I don’t even mean that facetiously. I’m sure adulthood has taken her out of her youthful self-admiration. I believe her and her family are considered good and decent people by everyone who knows them.

The other girl I’ll call “Jenny,” since that was her name. I was originally somewhat attracted to her until I saw the way she was. I began dealing with Jenny, then, the same as I did Jackie. Unlike Jackie, Jenny kept her cool, though visibly flustered. In fact, it was obvious that she continued to like the attention. She got her revenge our senior year, though, when I asked her to sign my yearbook. Three years of pent-up frustration came pouring out on the page, and though she didn’t use one foul word, I got called everything but the proverbial white man. I was shocked, but somewhat amused. I had it coming, but I was a little surprised she’d do it in ink in a yearbook, instead of just giving it to me verbally.

Those days are long gone, and I like to think that I’m a little better behaved. I’d certainly BETTER be, since I’ve been calling myself a Christian for 33 years. I haven’t bumped into either of the two for many years, but, even now, they’d probably give you a less than flattering opinion of my moral character if you asked. I wouldn’t fault them, though; some things can’t be undone. Do I regret doing it now? Well, yes, but less for their sakes than because I lowered my own self by doing it. Unfortunately, it took me a LONG while to grow up. Some guys are like that. © 2016
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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

SOUL FOOD? Really?

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I get amused sometimes as I watch the “traveling cooks” on TV interviewing local commercial cooks around the country in their restaurant kitchens. A LOT of folks think this dish or that originated in their area or was invented by their granddad or some other local individual. No doubt they believe it, but dozens of other folks from other places often make claims just as valid, or invalid, as theirs. The one I find most amusing is how glibly some black folks call certain foods “soul food” and act like blacks invented it. And, of course, the white, liberal, politically correct hosts nod their heads in either solemn agreement or downright awe. Now don’t get me wrong, blacks HAVE had an influence on American cuisine, especially southern cuisine, just not quite as much as they think.

A LOT of what is thought of as soul food is really just poor people’s food. Let’s start at the beginning. Back when folks lived in caves and mud huts, they didn’t eat so regular. As a result, they ate nearly every part of any animal, including brains, tongues, feet, tails and internal and even sexual organs. It wasn’t much different with the Native Americans or Eskimos when the Europeans arrived. It’s STILL that way with most people who live primitive lifestyles anywhere in the world.

Europeans were no different back then; many aren’t even today. In the old days, though, the royalty got the “good” meat from any wild game the hunters killed, and the ones who actually killed the game got only the “humbles,” another name for guts. From that situation, we get the expression “eating humble pie,” a saying most young folks have never heard. Incidentally, back then, a pie was a meat dish, not a fruit dish. Interestingly enough, organ meats are often richer in nutrients than muscle meat. So the poor man and his family may actually have been healthier than the royalty, IF they got an adequate volume of such food.

When the Europeans came to America, they not only found a native people still eating every part of the animals they hunted, they also found them eating fruits and vegetables that they’d never seen before. Among them were avocados, peppers, corn, papayas, peanuts, pineapples, potatoes, tomatoes, sunflowers, squash, wild rice, pumpkins, and cranberries, but there were many more. These foods were often prepared by whites in a manner very similar to the way the “Indians” used them, but gradually, some variations crept in.

When African slaves were imported to this country, they were usually given the scraps and left-overs from the tables of their owner’s. This included both meat and vegetables. Note the similarity to the Europeans eating of humbles; in fact, they got the exact same parts as their European predecessors, just from different animals, perhaps. They DID cook things a bit differently than the Europeans, usually making their dishes spicier when they could. They also added more greens to their diets than many whites were used to eating, which made the diets of the whites healthier, too, when they used black cooks. In addition, the slaves brought black eyed peas (though the Indians had various types of beans also), okra, watermelon, sesame seeds, millet and probably a few other things.

Except for the foods just mentioned, black cooking was more about combinations and seasonings than ingredients. Unknown to many modern blacks, most poor whites in both the north and south ate very nearly the same foods as their own ancestors did. Poor is poor, no matter what color your skin may be. The rich, like the royalty of old, or the slave masters, usually got the best parts of slaughtered animals, the poor got what they could beg or afford to buy. Even when I was a kid, many families that I knew (all white) ate a lot of cornbread and beans, wild and domestic greens, ox-tails, pig’s feet, soups, and vegetables that they could grow themselves, including watermelon. Those who raised a pig also ate chittlins (intestines), cracklins (connective tissue cooked out of the fat when making lard) and “pork rinds” (deep-fried skin). Some even ate the “mountain oysters” from the males.

I remembered two things while writing this. The first was the surprise of a black coworker years ago when he learned that my ancestors ate almost exactly like his. The other was the delight on the face of my beloved (and prim and proper) great aunt when I’d take her a jar of pickled pig’s feet! The bottom line is this—unless they choose to deliberately make themselves different, poor folks is poor folks pretty-much all over, both then and now. © 2016
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Monday, July 4, 2016

Walkin’ In The Rain (Unnecessarily)

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I’m not sure it’s true, but I’ve heard that white domestic turkeys are so stupid that you don’t dare leave them out in the rain. They’ll spend so much time looking up to spot the source of all that water (and end up with so much water in their lungs) that they’ll drown. Personally, I think the folks that tell that tale are probably pulling our leg, but it does illustrate how overzealous selective breeding might negatively affect a species.

People, too, are selectively bred, apparently. Generation after generation of stupid people have had offspring for so long that most modern folks really don’t have sense enough to come in out of the rain. I’ve come to this conclusion from looking at people on the streets during rainy weather. When a downpour comes up, most don’t wait it out like I used to see people do. They just walk around without rain boots, raincoats, hats or even a newspaper over their heads. Worse, many pedestrians start off a rainy day by walking out of the house and into an already falling rain without any protection whatsoever. That’s far more foolish than being out and getting caught in a rain unexpectedly.

Now, this isn’t to say that I always used my best sense when I was younger, but I’m a wise old geezer now and know better. They say that getting wet and cold will NOT give you a cold, and that colds are caused solely by germs. They’re half right. What they aren’t telling you is that being wet and cold puts physical stress on the body, MAKING IT MORE SUSCEPTIBLE to such germs. Any livestock farmer can tell you that, but many medicos like to be technically correct while being completely devoid of common sense.

There IS a handy little device which can keep a lot of rain off your body—the umbrella. Most folks today seem to have never heard of one, if we are to judge by their actions, despite the fact that they’ve been around for about 4,000 years now (literally). It seems that only some women, but nearly no men, carry them on rainy days, except for a lot of old people, who were born before all the common sense was bred out of our species.

Back when I was still driving dump truck, the weatherman predicted a day of intermittent downpours. Since I’m old and slow and the parking lot at work was rather large, I took my big black umbrella with me. The old codger who ran the loader (only a wee bit older than myself, really) was teasing me about it in front of the other drivers. My reply was that any self-respecting rock truck driver ALWAYS carried his bumbershoot. Some of the drivers got a good laugh from my silliness, but the loader man looked as if I’d completely lost my mind. The last laugh was on him, though, when he got soaked to the skin running to his loader. I couldn’t resist pulling alongside in my work truck and asking if he’d like to borrow my umbrella. I SWEAR the man growled at me!

So, now you know what I think of the intelligence of the average modern American. AND, if you go out unprepared, get soaked and end up with the sniffles, just remember, you’ve been warned. (My mama would be so proud!) © 2016
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Sunday, July 3, 2016

Observations And Thoughts While At ChinaMart

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(Above store name stolen from Sixbears.)

Obviously, I was in ChinaMart today. My first stop was in the sporting goods section. Of eight .22 rifles, four were bolt action and four were semi-automatic. Of 20 shotguns, every last one was a pump. Of 11 high-powered rifles, one was lever action, one was semi-automatic and nine were bolt actions. When asked, the lady who was at the counter said there would be single-shot shotguns and rifles coming in before hunting season. I didn’t ask about auto shotguns. I have to wonder if those guns are what didn’t sell last year, or if they just stocked them for the summer expecting that they would sell better. Maybe I should have asked her that, too.

I prefer double-barreled shotguns; but who can afford such luxury these days? After that, I prefer single-shot shotguns, though the Remington 1148 that I had many years ago was a good enough gun. I like semi-auto .22’s, specifically Ruger 10/22’s. I’ve got one with a 3x9 scope, a Mannlicher stock and custom trigger that I’d sure hate to part with. After it, I like shotgun-style single-shot .22’s. What can I say; I love light weight and simplicity!

Also, in that section, I was looking at the caps. (Some folks who don’t know any better call them “hats.”) They ran anywhere from $5 to $15 and EACH ONE had a company logo on it. I’m showing my age to say that I remember when companies GAVE AWAY such caps for the advertising value. A certain very warm place will freeze over before I pay $15 for a cap with somebody else’s name on it. Heck, I wouldn’t pay that for one with MY name on it. Most people are such lemmings, though, and want something that makes them part of the “cool” crowd. (I have no idea what the current term is that means “cool.”)

Over in the tool section, I found a nice little Chinese tape measure for a buck and a very accurate Chinese plastic torpedo level for $1.75. No wonder your average weekend warrior buys such things instead of the high-priced “American” brands that are probably made in the same factory anyway. A set of Stanley bolt-cutters were only about $19, but they were Chinese also. I would NEVER buy any Chinese tool where the steel needed to be of any quality. I remember seeing truckloads of Chinese steel scrapped at the Ames factory where I used to work because it was completely unusable. I DID find an American made poll hatchet by Vaughn for $20 that seemed to be of excellent quality. If I didn’t already have a collection of quality, usable antique hatchets, I’d probably buy one.

My wife tired early today, so I didn’t have to recycle my visits to the various departments. I DID manage to find the new issue of Backwoodsman though; it’s the only magazine that I buy anymore. I seem to be getting really fickle about my reading material now that I’ve entered geezerhood! © 2016
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Saturday, July 2, 2016

Granddad’s Spring

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It seems strange that water should flow from the ground 50 feet from the top of a steep hill, but so it was with the spring where we got our water for several years. Beneath the gnarled roots of a giant oak was a tiny cliff-like rock formation, about four feet tall. From a horizontal crack near the bottom of that rock ran the sweetest, coolest water that you could imagine. It flowed onto a small flat area of stone, perhaps three feet across then, at one time, down the hill no doubt. However, soon after he bought the place in 1946, Granddad made two sides and a partial front around that stone with hard red brick and lime mortar, so a catch-basin of about 30 gallons was formed. A rough lumber screen door of half-inch hardware cloth kept critters and leaves out of the spring, for the most part.

Jutting into that catch basin, through the short front wall was an iron pipe through which the water flowed, by gravity, to a square wash tub about 400 feet away in the valley below. The wash tub was held in place by iron rods driven into the ground through the two hinged handles, so it wouldn’t get knocked from its position by the jugs and buckets that dipped water from it. The pipe ended just high enough above the back rim of the tub that the tin cup, which always hung upside down on the iron rod on the right, could be filled directly from the pipe without getting it in the water that filled the tub. I have no idea how many folks drank from that tin cup over the years but, as far as I know, no-one ever died from using it.

The water flowed from that pipe winter and summer, through soggy seasons and droughts, with little variation in volume. In warm weather, the tub was surrounded by water mint and wild touch-me-nots, with a few day-lilies thrown in for good measure. Dragon-flies (snake-feeders we called them) often perched on the weeds and hovered around the tub. Invariably, your presence would result in some sprig of mint being crushed and the air would suddenly have a sweet spiciness to it. When ripe, the touch-me-nots could be wonderfully entertaining to a kid in no hurry to fill his containers and be off. From the front edge of the tub, the water spewed into a tiny ditch that ran to a small brook about 15 feet away.

Before the days of hauling water, which meant before our old hand-dug well silted in, the tub and the stream held much fascination for a small boy. With the same weeds along the stream as were by the tub, the area always smelled good and provided entertainment. So did the snake-feeders darting around and the water bugs skittering over the surface of the quieter areas of the little run. Sometimes, there were minnows or crawdads to be seen, and strings of green algae that would make you slide on the rock bottom if you weren’t careful. Even water snakes occasionally made a hasty escape, making me jump from surprise nearly every time. I guess you’re a little cautious about long, skinny things that wiggle when you’re barefoot.

A few years later, when carrying water was a way of life, it was often my chore to drive the family car up to my grandparents and fill the jugs. We had two and five gallon jugs for water to bath in. They would be filled, as much as possible, from the tub. The drinking water, though, went into recycled gallon milk jugs, which were always filled straight from the pipe. Then, I had to carry the jugs back across the narrow footbridge to the car, which waited in the driveway, on the other side of the stream. The footbridge was made of two decent-sized poles with rough lumber nailed from one to the other. It always developed a nice up and down motion when walked on, giving me a chance to develop my “sea legs.”

I wasn’t the only one to walk the footbridge, though. Several other area families had no running water in their homes, either temporarily or permanently, and depended on the spring. Also, some of Granddad’s city acquaintances would come out to get “real” drinking water, rather than the chemical-laced poison that came from the public water system.

One thing was known by all, it was time to clean the spring when a crawdad would be found zipping around the bottom of the wash tub! © 2016
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