Saturday, January 20, 2018

Saturday Scary Movies - A Brigid Guest Post

Partner in Grime (aka The Husband) is in the UK on business so I've been "bacheloring" it this week with Abby Normal our rescue Lab.  A couple of years ago we gave away our small flat screen TV.  It really looked out of place in our 100-year-old home and there was no wall space to mount it given the sconces and the many windows.  I have an extra large monitor for teleworking  in the office so we stream or watch shows and movies on that through Amazon Prime or our collection of boxed sets as the office (which was originally a very large master bedroom) is also a den with a comfy futon, fluffy rugs and other decor to make it cozy to both two and four-legged family.
But with Partner in Grime gone, Abby and I watched some scary movies.  Partner in Grime  doesn't like them, but I do.

After watching a few of them,  I'm going to teach you what we learned the last few nights.

When it seems that you have killed the monster, never check closely to see if it's really dead.

If you find that your house is built upon or near a cemetery, had previous inhabitants who went mad, flung themselves off the roof, or died in some horrible accident OR inhabitants that dressed in black robes with a giant flaming Pentagram in the yard (I know they said it was a Tupperware party, they lied) move immediately.

Never read a book of demon summoning aloud, especially not as a YouTube video.

Do not search the basement if the power suddenly goes out.
Never ask "is somebody there?" if you live alone and hear a strange noise.

When traveling in numbers, never "pair off" or go it alone.

As a general rule, don't solve puzzles that open portals to Hell.

Never stand in, on, above, below, beside, or anywhere near a grave, tomb crypt, mausoleum or other house of the dead at midnight on Friday the 13th.
If you hear a strange noise in a distant part of the house and find out it's just the cat, leave the house immediately, as it's never the cat.

If appliances start operating themselves, move out. If it's the 1940's stand mixer, call a Priest.

If you find an old farm town which looks deserted, it's probably for a good reason.  Take the hint and turn around. If there are two vacant-eyed kids selling kettle corn at a roadside stand in said deserted town ignore all posted speed limits.
The mutant alien cucumber from "It Conquered the World.

Vegetables can hurt you.  Eat more Pizza.

If you hear a strange noise outside  Do NOT go out there. Or at least take a weapon, some common sense, or a disposable secondary character to use as a distraction.

Don't babysit - seriously, in scary movies babysitters are psychopath crack. Mow lawns, the psychos never go after the kid mowing the lawn.
When Muppets Do Meth

Don't fool with recombinant DNA technology unless you're really sure you know what you are doing.

If you are running from the monster, boogieman, etc, expect to trip or fall down at least twice, more if you are female and scantily clad.  Also note that, although you are running and the monster is merely shambling along - it will still catch up with you
If that house in seemingly excellent condition is SUPER cheap don't buy it.
If your companions or housemates suddenly being to exhibit uncharacteristic behavior such as hissing, fascination with blood, glowing eyes, increasing hairiness and so on, get away from them as fast as possible.

If your car runs out of gas in the middle of nowhere do not knock on the door of the nearest dark dwelling for help.  That never ends well.
If your children suddenly speak to you in Latin or in a  deep, dark voice other than their own, pack up their things and drop them off at a relative you don't like.

Don't be a teenager - sure the parties, sex, and alcohol and lack of parents at your rave in Mom and Dad's mansion may seem like fun but it just draws demented ax murderers.  Case in point.  Last night, I watched a movie wearing Cuddleduds with hair color on my roots and munching on popcorn.  I can guarantee there wasn't an ax murderer within 50 miles.

And lastly folks - if you want to survive to the end of the movie - KEEP YOUR CLOTHES ON!
I'm not scared Mom, let's watch another one.


Suddenly it's not 15° anymore.  That means one thing.

Government shutdown kabuki

What a weird situation.

Hat tip: Sal the Agorist.

Bananas At Large - Da Turdy Point Buck

There are a lot of deer near Castle Borepatch, and Wolfgang and I like to look for them on our walks. We see them pretty often, and Wolfgang is good at flushing them from their hiding places in the thickets.  He's a big dog, but not the fastest, and the deer don't seem like they have to run fast to get away from him.

Wolfgang really seems to come alive - as the Buddha says, he has the dog nature.

Today we saw a really big one.  Of course, there's a song about that.  Even if it is a pretty weird one, from a group of what seems to be Wisconsin Cheeseheads.

Da Turdy Point Buck (Songwriters: ?)
lemmie tell ya dat
and you know it's not so much the heat as it is the gosh darn humidity
you know dat 
you know when you sit there in the bed and you're just
sweaty you know and you go to reach for the water on
the nightstand and ya slide right out of bed, and the wife says
"stop making so much noise you're waking me up, go to sleep" 
well lemmie tell ya
times like that make me feel like movin up north ya know
good idea
yeah i'd do it too 
course then i couldn't watch the Packers ya know, the Packers are
gosh i like the Packers, i'd do anything for the Packers
who can forget Vince Lombardi ya know, back in the glory years, not me boy
ya know 
yeah well anyhow
gettin to be that time of year eh? 
yeah i'm a deer hunter how do you do 
i got this deer huntin rappin tale for you
i'm so excited, it's my favorite time of year
i love to freeze my buns chasin trophy deer
but don't clap your hands to the stompin of the feet
cause ya he's like me he can't keep a steady beat no 
i got this great big knife cause the hunting is my life
it's my chance to drink beer and get away from the wife
it's the boys night out acting stupidly

say now baby baby don't you think maybe how bout you and me yeah
well we partied all night never made it to our bunks and
i was sittin in the tree stand on the tree dead drunk
windmill blowin 45, temp thirty below,
i was freezin to death, then it started to snow
so i got down from the tree stand start headin for the truck
and thats when i seen it there, the turdy point buck
the turdy point buck? 
turdy point buck
turdy point buck
turdy point buck
turdy point buck
turdy point buck  
well he was eight foot tall,
weighed twelve thousand pounds,
with every step there was a shakin' on the ground
he was so rutiful so beautiful
strutted right out of my dreams,
he was created by God just for outdoor magazines
now i'm not much for thinkin, no i don't do it often
but i had an idea
to put that turdy pointer in his coffin 
turdy point buck
turdy point buck 
i couldn't get to my grenades
the howitzer was in the shop
my stomache was tied into a monkey knot
ya my only hope was betty lou
she was da one
a combination AK-57 uzzie radar lasar triple barrel
double scoped heat-seakin shotgun 
turdy point buck
turdy point buck
turdy point buck 
ya dat the women clappin' the the back dere i gotta make dat
well he was comin for me gettin bigger and bigger but
my fingers were so frozen i could not pull the trigger
i kicked off my boots fired with my big toe
i was Dirty Harry, John Wayne, and G.I. Joe
ya dat turday point buck was only 10 feet away
ya still i couldn't seem to hit him and he wouldn't run away
and after 20 minutes when the smoke cleared
there were hunters on the ground and the world's biggest deer
standing tall and proud, he looked at me and yawned (ohhhhhhh dear)
and then a flash of white, and there he was, gone 
well seven men got up and then one fell down
a big lump of blaze orange, shakin on the ground
at first i thought he was one of the boys
but it was a no brother good in law man from illinois
only cheese-heads in here, right boys?
send him back on the next plane ya know 
Did ya see the turdy pointer?
Did ya see the turdy pointer?
Did ya see the turdy pointer?
Did ya see the turdy pointer?
as we jumped into da truck
sayin i'm gonna get that turdy point buck
yeah i'm gonna get that turdy point buck

turdy point buck

Friday, January 19, 2018

This Will be Next - A Brigid Guest Post

I am married to a millennial (insert cougar joke here). He's pretty smart, had a patent on something most of you have in your home when he turned 30, doesn't buy Lester's ammo, and always admits he's wrong when my red hair is on fire.  I've yet to see him ingest laundry detergent but I think he ate a fried bug in Vietnam once.

With all the viral idiocy of the Tide Pod Challenge I can only imagine that this will be next.

Get off my lawn

ProTip #2 For the Pod Eaters

There's cotton candy in the walls.

It is good to kill an admiral from time to time, in order to encourage the others

Image via Le Wik
Admiral John Byng was a Royal Navy officer in the 18th century.  Britain and France were at war off and on for most of the century, and in 1756 commanded a fleet sent to relieve the siege of Minorca.  He lost to the French fleet, one of the Royal Navy's few defeats in that age.

And so they court marshaled him and shot him.

Europe was shocked at this.  Voltaire wrote a line into his satirical novel Candide that is the title of this post:  Dans ce pays-ci, il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres ("In this country it is good to kill an admiral from time to time, in order to encourage the others").  The contempt towards those responsible fairly drips from his pen.  The consensus today is that Voltaire was right and the Royal Navy was wrong.

Fast forward 250 years and we see the same nautical ass covering from our own Pentagon:
Five officers involved in two Navy ship collisions last year that killed a total of 17 sailors are being charged with negligent homicide, the Navy said Tuesday.

A Navy spokesman, Capt. Greg Hicks, said the charges, which also include dereliction of duty and endangering a ship, will be presented to what the military calls an Article 32 hearing to determine whether the accused are taken to trial in a court-martial.
I'm throwing the "Bullshit Flag" on this.
It seems that there is no mistake that the Pentagon desk jockeys will take responsibility for, especially including the under manning and lack of training time that has been enshrined in Navy policy.
It is hard to train people. It's hard to persuade our skinflint do-nothing Congress to pay for it. It's hard to get funding for enough people to do the jobs, so the fraking in-house MBAs at Ft. Fumble came up with the idea of cross-decking-- "let's train gunners' mates to stand helm watches" and more stupid shit.
As a tip o' the chapeau to M. Voltaire, let me offer up a modern saying that perhaps approaches his in terms of cynicism: enough layers of bureaucracy ensures that disaster is not left to chance.

A ProTip for Millenials

You like to eat dishwasher detergent?  Then you don't know the cornucopia that awaits you in the driveway.


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Border Collie pups interview for a job

All together now: Awwwwwww!

If only millennials could do as well ....

Need moar coffee

The Temple of Janus is open for business

The Romans are often accused of "stealing" their mythology from the Greeks: Zeus became Jupiter, Ares became Mars, etc.  But one god that was uniquely Roman was Janus, the two-faced god of gateways (and by analogy, of beginnings and endings).  The first month of the year is named after him, and we even get a faint echo of the two faces in the typical New Year's depiction of the old year as an old man and the new year as a baby.

It's not clear at all how the Temple of Janus on the Roman Forum became associated with war and peace, but the ancient tradition was that when the Republic was at war the doors of the temple were kept open; only when the war was over were they closed.

The historian Livy tells us that king Tulles Hostillius opened the doors in around 650 B.C. when he attacked a neighboring city.  The doors remained open for the next 400 years.  The doors were shut at the end of the first war with Carthage, but were only shut for eight years.  Re-opened in 227 B.C. during a war with the Gauls, they remained open until shut by Caesar Augustus in 29 B.C.

So out of a period of 650 years or so, the doors were only shut for a couple of decades.  If you need a one sentence description of the Roman temperament, that's about as good as any.

The Geek With Guns muses on our modern republic:
A recent poll discovered that a strong majority of Americans oppose the endless state of war that the United States is engaged in:
The headline findings show, among other things, that 86.4 percent of those surveyed feel the American military should be used only as a last resort, while 57 percent feel that US military aid to foreign countries is counterproductive. The latter sentiment “increases significantly” when involving countries like Saudi Arabia, with 63.9 percent saying military aid—including money and weapons—should not be provided to such countries.
If the plebs had any power to influence politics, the players in the war economy might have cause for concern. Fortunately for them, the plebs have no actual influence over politics. At most they can decide which preselected candidate should occupy an office.
The doors of our temple of Janus remain open.  It's good for business.  We pay the cost in coin of the realm; those on the tip of the spear pay the cost in blood.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Holiday At The Range

Borepatch couldn't make it, but we sucked it up and went to the range without him. We set up a large array, started back about 60 yards with a carbine, then transitioned to pistols for part of the stage at 15 yards or less. Time and scoring. I'm not very fast, but the accuracy was good.

It warmed up in the mid-day enough to shed our coats, the sun was out, and as Box O' Truth likes to say, "Shooting stuff is fun!"

Japan Issues "Accidental" Missile Alert

Okay, I could see that people wanted to believe that it is possible to issue an accidental alert in Hawaii. No matter that any software I would write would at least require the tech to enter his password and click a "Yes, I Am Sure I want To Send This Warning" button.

Are you willing to be believe it happened twice in one week in different countries? Because Japan did it too. 

They are testing their systems.

Are you sick of Telemarketers?

Jolly Roger Telephone Company has an AI bot that will answer the telemarketing calls for you.  It keeps talking to them to keep them on the line, driving up their cost.  It records the call and then emails you a recording "so you can have a laugh".

They post the call of the day on their web site, for your amusement.  They have a bunch of different bots, including the lonely senior citizen, the distracted soccer mom, the alcoholic, and others.  Pretty funny stuff.

Dear Emily Post...

Is it more polite to call Mexico a hellhole than it is to call Haiti a shithole?

Because here's Sen. Lindsay Graham speaking about border security in 2013 and suggesting that we treat countries on our southern border differently:

Monday, January 15, 2018

Epic troll is epic

Should have said "Hold mah beer" ...

Hawks setting wild fires

From the "The World is stranger than we imagine" files comes this from Australia:
It's pretty hot in Australia right now. A brutal heatwave that's incinerated temperature records threatens devastating bushfires – and to make matters worse, authorities have to contend with an ancient breed of flying arsonists that may as well be miniature dragons.

A new study incorporating traditional Indigenous Australian ecological knowledge describes the largely unknown behaviour of so-called 'firehawk raptors' – birds that intentionally spread fire by wielding burning sticks in their talons and beaks. 
These flying firestarters are spread across at least three known species – the Black Kite (Milvus migrans), Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus), and Brown Falcon (Falco berigora) – but while their hell-raising may be observed in Indigenous knowledge, that's not so elsewhere.
Damn punk hawks, always smoking behind the school ...

How it All Ends - A Brigid Guest Post after Two Much White Wine

Sunday, January 14, 2018

A millennial job interview

Found by the Queen Of The World.  Funny as hell, right there.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Tinfoil Hats and Hawaii

Hawaii got a warning this morning that there was an incoming missile. This was a take cover now, this is no drill, missile inbound warning.

The official story is that it was a mistake. So sorry, my bad, pushed the wrong button.

Maybe. Or maybe it was an opening test, let's just give them 15 minutes of thinking it real and see how the populace of 2018 reacts.

Or, if you're really into the Reynolds Wrap™, maybe there a missile launched. We managed to intercept it, using some technology we'd rather not discuss publicly, and the easiest, perhaps reflexive, response from the government was to just say "Swamp Gas!" and push the neuralizer.


Found at Sal The Agorist.  Hat tip (and many thanks) to James for the email pointer.

Warning: it doesn't matter whether you're conservative, liberal, or libertarian - he's very likely to piss you off.  But he's funny as all get out.

Ray Stevens - Gitarzan

I took down the Christmas lights at Castle Borepatch.  Losing my redneck cred, right there.  So here's a good old redneck song to redeem my reputation.

Ray Stevens wrote humorous songs that tickled the country's funny bone back in the '60s (this one and "Ahab The Arab") and '70s ("The Streak").  Guitarzan hit #8 on the Hot 100 chart in 1969.  Interestingly, he had a serious side, and won a Grammy in 1971 for "Everything Is Beautiful".

Guitarzan (Songwriters: Ray Stevens, Bill Everette)
He's free as the breeze,
He's always at ease.
He lives in the jungle
And hangs by his knees,
As he swings through trees
Without a trapeeze,
In his BVD's.
A-hoo hoo! 
He's got a union card
And he's practicin' hard
To play the gitar.
Gon' be a big star,
Yeah he's gonna go far.
An' carry moonbeams home in a jar! 
He ordered Chet's guitar course COD,
Makes A&E an' he's workin' on B.
Digs C&W&R&B an' an' me an' a chimpanzee
Agree that one day soon he'll be,
A celebrity.
Get it!
Get it!
Get it!
Get it!
He's a guitar man!
He's all you can stand,
Give him a hand,
(Tarzan yell)
He's gotta girl named Jane,
With no last name.
Kinda homely and plain,
But he loves her just the same.
'Cause she kindles a flame,
And it drives him insane,
When he hears her sing.
She really does her thing.
It's here claim to fame,
Come on, sing one Jane: 
Baby, baby, Whaooooo Baby!
Whaooooo Baby! 
Well, they gotta pet monkey,
He likes to get drunky,
And sing boogie woogie,
And it sounds real funky,
Come on, yo' time, boy,
Sing one monkey,
Here we go, 
(Monkey grunts)
Lets hear it for the monkey!
(He He He He) 
On Saturday night they need some excitement,
Jane gets right and the monkey gets tight,
And their voices unite, in the pale moon light,
And it sounds alright, yeah, it's dynamite,
It's outta sight.
Let's hear it, right nnnnnnnnow! 
And his jungle band!
They're all you can stand,
Give 'em a hand, Gitarzan!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Watching the Climate Science® sausage getting made

This is nothing that we haven't suspected for a long time, but is richly documented here:
Short summary: scientists sought political relevance and allowed policy makers to put a big thumb on the scale of the scientific assessment of the attribution of climate change.
Bernie Lewin has written an important new book:
The IPCC is the UN organizations that puts together Assessment Reports every 5 years (we're due for AR6 in a couple years).  These reports are supposed to document the current best understanding of climate science.

What is particularly interesting is how long ago all this started.  What's not surprising is that the driving force back then was a scramble for research grant funding by scientists:
The peak of interest in climate among atmospheric scientists was an international climate conference held in Stockholm in 1974 and a publication by the ‘US Committee for GARP’ [GARP is Global Atmospheric Research Programme] the following year. The US GARP report was called ‘Understanding climate change: a program for action’, where the ‘climate change’ refers to natural climatic change, and the ‘action’ is an ambitious program of research.
[There was] a coordinated, well-funded program of research into potentially catastrophic effects before there was any particular concern within the meteorological community about these effects, and before there was any significant public or political anxiety to drive it. It began in the midst of a debate over the relative merits of coal and nuclear energy production [following the oil crisis of the 1970’s]. It was coordinated by scientists and managers with interests on the nuclear side of this debate, where funding due to energy security anxieties was channelled towards investigation of a potential problem with coal in order to win back support for the nuclear option.
This was almost 50 years ago, which is plenty of time for a scientific bureaucracy to grow up around this topic.  Remember, where you have bureaucracy, you have Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy:
Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people":
 First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration. 
Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.
The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.
Now think about the often repeated "Scientific consensus" on global warming.  Think on the funding that feeds the scientific bureaucracy.  How on earth could there not be a consensus?

Of course, that consensus says precisely nothing on whether global warming is true or not.

RTWT.  It's long, and detailed, and damning.


Trump shouldn't have said it, at least not in such plain language.

But for all the outrage, he's not wrong. Haiti is a terrible place. Compare it to the Dominican Republic which is the other half of the same island and draw your own conclusions.

If the U.N. wants to condemn something, it shouldn't the President who was impolitic enough to speak the unvarnished truth. They should condemn the government of Haiti, go in, take over, and rescue the next generation of Haitians. The cleanup alone will take decades. Rebuilding the government, educating the populace, and creating a sustainable economy could occupy the U.N. for the rest of the century.

And just to be clear, if I was a Haitian, I'd be trying to get to the United States too. We'll know that the U.N. effort was successful when people from the United States are trying to sneak into Haiti.

Some statistics:


  • Haiti ranks 168 out of 187 on the 2014 Human Development Index (UNDP 2015)
  • Gross National Income per capita (at Purchase Power Parity) is $1730. The average for Caribbean/Latin American developing countries is $14,098. (World Bank 2014)
  • 59% of the population lives on less than US$2 per day (World Bank 2012)
  • 24.7% lives in extreme poverty on less than US$1.25 per day. (UNDP 2013)
  • Over two-thirds of the labor force do not have formal jobs. (CIA Factbook 2014)


  • 50 percent of children do not attend school. (World Bank 2013)
  • Approximately 30% of children attending primary school will not make it to third grade; 60% will abandon school before sixth grade. (UNICEF 2008)
  • Only 29 percent of Haitians 25 and above attended secondary school. (USAID 2015)
  • Almost 80 percent of teachers have not received any pre-service training. (USAID 2015)
  • Half of public sector teachers in Haiti lack basic qualifications. (USAID 2015)
  • 90% of primary schools are non-public and managed by communities, religious organizations or NGOs. (USAID 2007)

Health & Nutrition

And because a picture is worth a thousand words:

Thursday, January 11, 2018

On Sustenance - Home Economics Memory from Brigid

How many of you that visit here remember seeing or taking  home economic classes in school in 70's and early 80's? After that it became gender neutral "bachelor living" where one learned how to make dip out of Velveeta and use Velcro. (I had to figure out Southern biscuits with peppered bacon gravy on my own).

The whole "home economics" idea, which in my day was only for female students, was not intended to make women a slave to the kitchen but rather came about from a change in how women shopped for their family.  Before the 19th century, except for the most privileged of the wealthy, women were producers of household items, including food and clothing, rather than consumers. So the early home economics classes focused on education for purchasing decisions, as well as health and hygiene in the home. What actual knowledge was imparted was often  limited  though, by school budgets and the quality of the teachers.  I have friends of my same age group that learned nothing more than how to make things out of hamburger and cans  Not in my home ec class. We learned to make things the way generations ago did.
I had the grand dame of home economic teachers, Miss Heidenreich. She was in her sixties, never married. She was sparsely thin and about 7 feet tall but perhaps that was just my recollection in 7th grade.  At first, we were all sort of afraid of her, she was so tall, straight and stern, she just loomed at the front of the classroom, there in a grey dress.  But then we watched, at least I did, as she moved as she talked, gathering raw materials of food or cloth, coordinating the efforts.  Then, when she demonstrated the finished product of what she wanted us to do, the look in her sparkling blue eyes was one of not just joy, but quiet triumph.

I recognized a bit of that.  Most of us were lucky in that we were raised by Mom's themselves raised in the 40's and 50's when money was tight and things were made to last. My Mom came through lean times in the Depression, her Dad killed in a logging accident, with no insurance, leaving a widow and three kids to feed. My grandma somehow got my Mom through college, unheard of in that day, wherein Mom got a job that paid enough to put her two younger brothers through, while Grandma worked full time as well.  She and my grandma both then, learned to work with that same efficiency of movement,  that might be considered detached would you not recognize it as simply being the beautiful efficiency of machinery.
My grandmother would not even recognize a grocery store of today and my Mom would be appalled at the quick and cheap clothing made that falls apart within a few months of wear.  She made all of her and my clothes herself, except for jeans and T-shirts, my sweaters hand knitted as well as an assortment of scarves and winter hats.  There was also an assortment of 70's crocheted vests that looked to be more for hanging a houseplant, than for wear, but that was the fashion.  Those clothes did not wear out but were cleaned, pressed and handed down to a younger cousin (except for that one dress that ended up with a bicycle tire track up the back, and no, don't ask).

If an item of wear, needed repair, Mom knew how to do it.  I however wasn't too keen on learning.

You see, I liked to cook, because, I like to eat.  I'd spend hours with my Mom, helping prepare the meal, if only to set the table while I watched her work. To me, cooking was like playing with the chemistry set, how fun to see how things are formed, how ingredients interact and take on whole other forms, and even better if you can eat the results.   But I had no interest in sewing, crocheting or knitting, making decorative pillows or embroidering a tea towel. I'd rather be out in the shop with my Dad or playing with model trains or control line aircraft. To say that I discovered that if you don't FEED your Betsy Wetsy Doll, she doesn't wet, gives you some idea of my mindset with "girl stuff".
I did make a valiant effort to knit a winter neck scarf for my Dad. But that was just because I loved him.  After several months, ripping inferior work out and starting over again, and again, I had a piece only 3 x 5 inches square.  I gave up, knitted the edges together and it became a tube dress for someone's Barbie.

Let's just say I was not too excited about Home Ec. that first year, though I respected my teacher as I was taught to.  I just kept quiet, and sewed my silly pink apron with my name embroidered on the pocket.  I did buttons and hems, though I got a D in "snaps" just because I was obstinate.  I learned how to darn a sock.  I sort of giggled at that, as in my home you said "darn" instead of "damn".  Actually "damn" would have been the more appropriate word to what I did to those socks.

But Miss Heidenreich taught us all of the basics. Unlike other classes, we weren't learning how to make casseroles with soup or 101 ways to use canned Crescent Rolls. The cooking was not anything out of a can, and there were some things we learned to make that were not very popular with us.  What 8th grader wants to make and eat stewed prunes or unseasoned boiled chicken for meat and broth.  What about brownies and pizza? But later, many years later, caring for the elderly, such things came in useful.  I could cook for restricted diets, I could make bread, I could make a white sauce instead of an expensive can of cream soup. I could make a variety of economical dishes with just a bit of meat or eggs or beans for protein.  I could make a cake missing key ingredients, butter, milk or eggs. (but not all three, that is known as a hockey puck).
Miss Heidenreicht would watch constantly, bright but insulate, letting us make our way, only stepping in when flames were involved, or there was a need to staunch blood.  But she was not popular with all the students as she was a stern task-masker, expecting you to work hard, to listen and to apply what she had taught you. She taught like my parents taught, but not all kids had the benefit of that experience.

She frowned on idleness and those girls that wore jeans to school, instead of neat slacks or dresses.  She dressed plainly, her dresses unadorned but for a bit of lace or a small necklace of pearls, the fabric starched into submission.  But she was not unkind, not even batting an eye when one jean-clad girl came in with green hair from a "let's add some ash blond highlights at home" disaster, only offering her extra praise for her strudel to keep her from crying.  Based on Miss Heidenreich's age, I only understood as an adult, what hardships she may have seen as a  young woman, Depression-era families sometimes starving, only the strong, resourceful and skilled surviving and thriving. It made me think differently of her home economics class, and what I came away from it with.

She was my teacher just that first year, retired and replaced by Mrs. Potter, of whom I have no real memory but for a friendly smile and the "Dante's Nine Circles of Hems".  By Ninth Grade, I'd learned enough, I thought and put in a bid to take Auto Shop instead of Home Ec.  That was met with a resounding slam of a car door.

I made my case, I knew how to make dinner, I needed to know how to change my oil and pack a wheel bearing. I was told I needed to take the "girl" classes. Shop class was only for boys.  I was told I was stubborn, I believe the term "as a mule" was heard (to which I pointed out to the administrators that unlike a horse, a mule is too intelligent to break its leg for glory running in a brief, pointless circle).  I was shot down, though there was one female friend and classmate, now an engineer, like her father, who won out and got to attend the agriculture class where she castrated a calf in a moment which gave me hope for the next generation.
So I dutifully sewed my outfits, made taffy and tarts and finally in the last sprint for independence, opted out of most of my courses, taking them at the local college, going full time in the summer.I wasn't old enough to drive but I made it there by bike and by bus or Dad's trusty steed.  I was indeed the only college freshman in a "training bra" (don't get me started on how that term started, it's not like you train them for tricks or anything "Sit",  Stay!", though getting older, they do know "roll over").

My days of home ec were over.  At the time I was happy for that, yet now, I wish I'd paid more attention, as more skills of prepping and preparing as well as knowledge and the economies of the kitchen would have served me well as I entered my 20's and 30's.

This Sunday morning, I'll be lighting the fire of a 70-year-old stove that's DIY maintenance and upkeep. The house will be cold, extra blankets used at night instead of bumping up the heat.  As the stove puts heat into the back of the house, activity picks up as if propelled by the increasing warmth. After reflection, prayer and thanks, there will be a plumbing project to finish, bread to be baked, and somewhere, a sock or two that needs damning.  Outside, branches scrape and rasp against the house, the frost on the window a portent to how cold it can be for the unprepared, as winter light lay upon the ground like a pale scrap of starched grey cloth.
But like many things in homes I've lived in before, I could afford to pay to have someone do all of this, buy all this. But I choose not to. I and my family would rather do more for ourselves, with minimal help from others, putting our money into tangibles which will keep us housed and safe, where days of struggle to survive, of sparse broken meals, do not threaten.  I  find such great satisfaction in saying "I made this"  or "I saved this much",  making something out of nothing, building not a house, but a home with pieces of the past, carefully mended, and always treasured
I look at all the blogs out there, many on my sidebar, of men and women, resourceful people, who have learned how to grow, store, can and prepare healthy meals for themselves or their family; manage land, tend a farm, some with help of other family members, some completely on their own, even as they teach these skills to others. Their skills aren't limited to the kitchen but include the field and the workbench. I have learned a lot from them, to add to what skills I grew up with.
Taking care of your family, your needs and safety, with no handouts and your own resources and skills is something to be admired.  All are things I wish were still stressed in school now.  Those that learn themselves, the men and women that do so and then pass on that knowledge to others, give me hope for the future.  I do think Miss Heidenreich would be proud.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Driving Mr. Barkley - A Brigid Guest Post

For those of you who have read The Book of Barkley, you are familiar with a rift on this story.  Barkley was my best friend for many years, until he introduced me to my husband, soon to be my new best friend, and then Partner in Grime for life. But much of the story of Barkley was in the many drives we had between Indianapolis and Chicago where Partner had a home which I visited until we were wed and I moved there.

For you see, for about 4 years I had a commute of about 4 hours each way every Monday morning and Thursday night between Indianapolis and Chicago. I worked four 10 hour shifts a week so it made for some LONG days.  I wanted to move to Chicago permanently to join my fiance, soon to be husband, but  I had a career and a townhome in Indiana.  My large home had sold and I was just renting the townhome, but transferring up to Chicago job-wise wasn't an option as there were no openings at my pay grade (I'm sort of like "Director" if we were NCIS) and I was too close to retirement to take a pay cut to be closer to home.  With people retiring, I knew there'd be an opening if I was just patient.

Fortunately, I had a big, sturdy American made barge of a vehicle to haul Barkley, and later Abby when we rescued her, back and forth.

Sometimes there's miscellaneous cargo of the squirrel, and not so squirrely, in the back..
Often it was dark when I left Monday morning, which was actually my favorite time to head out. It gave me another night "home"  and I missed the worst of the traffic.  At 3 a.m. the roads were mostly vacant, the sky nothing more than the thin deceptive perception of safety.
So I always made sure the truck was full of gas and the road ahead clear and then I'd get Barkley in his harness and ready to go.
Madam - I'll just wait here on my dog bed until you bring the car around

Uh, Barkley, the LITTLE grey bed is your dog bed.

Soon, the night succumbed to day, and everything quickened.  The traffic and my pulse would quicken, as the light spread over the road like water. Soon it's day and from the vantage point of a vehicle that sits up high, I could see all sorts of things.

It's fun to look back on some of the trips, "bed hair" and all. If we were moving I'd just hold up the little point and shoot camera while I kept a hand and eyes on the road and snap back at Barkley.  Some of those were hilarious.  And if we were slowed or stopped in traffic sometimes we could get a shot of an interesting vehicle.

Diary of a Drive with Mom
I'm in the truck with Mom!  I'm in the truck with Mom! I'm in the truck with Mom!
Ninety Nine Boxes of Treats on the Wall, Ninety Nine Boxes of Treats. . .
Can't you change the channel?  It's the "Corn and Cow Show" again and I've seen this episode.
Does she even notice I'm back here, It's been like a YEAR since I got a treat.
Where did he go?
I am SOOOO bored. 
Mom - I think I'm getting car sick.  Can we stop again.  Perhaps at a burger place? 

Wake up Barkley -there's an interesting vehicle!~

The doggie gaze equivalent of "Mom - What the. . . .?"

This truck probably cost more than some of the houses just west of here.  You could have performed surgery off most of its surfaces.  The driver apparently very proud of it, wants you to know who is driving it by the giant dayglo orange name across the back window.   At first, I thought his name was "Tarzan".  Either I'm getting nearsighted or I REALLY need to clean these windows..
Driving through the freeway stretch of Gary (which is normally done at twice the speed of sound, the cops not even wanting to pull anyone over on that particular stretch), I saw what appeared to be the Batmobile.  At least the Batmobile Gary style.
The young man driving it was probably the best driver on the road, in and out of lanes discretely and expertly, yet not being stupid (unlike Vlad the Impala that tried to kill me several times).  I'm not sure what that hood ornament is.

I actually did see on a stretch of the road further south of here the real Batmobile, or at least a reproduction thereof.   When I arrived in Indy and met Tam and Roberta X for a meal I tried to tell them about that experience.

Me.  "I waved, he waved.  But he didn't signal when he was changing lanes." (Seriously, I about ZAP! POW! BAM!'d his back bumper when he suddenly cut in front of  me.)

Friend #1: "The Bat Signal is only for use in emergencies."

Friend #2: "People signal Batman; Batman doesn't signal people.

On this same stretch of road, another trip, there was a vehicle for which I didn't get a picture as the traffic was too heavy to be distracted by a camera. There were a couple extra antennas on it. One looked like it was Elmer-Glued on. It looked too new to be a Grand Marquis de Sade, more likely a later model Crown Vic, but the shape and color were such that hundreds of drivers in the past had likely slowed down in its presence thinking it was an unmarked cop car.

The driver, as well, was all in black, with a black baseball type hat, earpiece in his ear, muscled arms clenched on the wheel. In the back window, another black ball cap, this one with 3 letters indicating a squirrel type employer. At this point I started to grin, knowing a bit about such headwear. I can tell you one does NOT put them in the back window of their car, although you can buy fakey looking souvenir ones on the internet. They're worn for a specific purpose and it usually involves a search warrant.
But what our Mall Ninja failed to realize, that despite the old police shaped spiffy car with the extra antenna or two, the clothing, the hat he bought on the net, and "the look", one thing just screamed "mall ninja!"

The yellow triangle in the window that said "Baby on Board".

I did get a picture of this. . .
Camouflage submarine?

Even with a state that's about as hilly as Saskatchewan, I still don't get more than 18 miles to the gallon.  But I bet I get more than this guy, driving a truck that appears to be made out of four separate vehicles with a camper that appears to be attached with Velcro. I kept my distance in case the wind picked up.
And, in an off the freeway foray to get gas in a safe area,  I saw this. Fifteen miles per gallon in hot pink.   I'd tint my windows too if my SUV was that color.
Then - this classic, another pink vehicle, a distinct shade of light pink  I recognized. It's a Mary Kay car I thought. You know, one of those new and shiny fancy cars with the sticker on the back "I Won It, Ask Me How - Mary Kay."

But as we got closer I could see it was a very beat up Volvo, with the rust marks to show its age. But it was pink. Pink, painted with a brush.

With a fresh and flawless Mary Kay "I Won It Ask me How" sticker in the back window.

The man driving it looked like the guy from the Red Green show and the car was full of junk, likely a run from the farm to the junkyard or dump.
There were quite a few drives though, where the cars were mundane, the landscape clouded with shadow and the camera stayed still.  Such were the mornings I looked at the light coming up in the sky, shooting upward in the darkness like the upward floating tresses of a drowned maiden sleeping in a motionless sea, I wish I could capture that.  I also knew that the cheap little camera in the vehicle, in motion, never captured it, that moment or the words in my head and I go back to my coffee and the thump of the miles.

I kept an eye on the weather as well, high winds not being a big concern in my vehicle, but definitely affecting other drivers I'd just as soon stay out of the way off.  I kept the radio tuned to the local alerts, and there is always the weather cow, one of the first pit stops on the journey. It's not the cheapest gas around, but the place was frequented by most of the local LEO's.  It was more country than city and the bathrooms were spotless (unlike the ones up by Crown Point where I think they lock the gas station bathrooms to keep people from sneaking in and cleaning them). 
 Weather cow says it's windy with a chance of flurries
 Weather cow says it's sunny.
Weather cow says it's raining.
Look, Mom !  A trailer full of tractors!

Barkley could sometimes be a pest, with stops for walks, and begging for treats and Barking at the Dart Trucks (I think he thought the Dart guy on the back of the truck looked like the UPS man) But I so I missed him after he went to the Bridge, driving that big Chevy Subdivision of a vehicle, logging miles between light and dark, the clock on the dash only changing the minutes, it seems, when I look away, the slight of hand of time that shapes us all.

So glad we've arrived at the townhouse so I can do something more exciting while you go to work!

Thank you, Barkley - for all the good trips and the good memories and for watching over Abby Lab and me while we made that last year of drives without you. We miss you every day.  When I get on a plane going to the UK and see someone in First Class reading your book, I just smile.  Your story continues to warm people the world over, and for that I am glad.