Ramblings about the world and myself
I have never really been able to write every day. I probably won't be able to do it now. I would like to write on a more regular basis. This blog is an attempt to develop a more regular writing habit. I can't guarantee an entry every day.|
|Nowadays people whine about how cold it is when the temperature drops into the lower forties. They ain't seen nothing!
Our local meteorologist was talking yesterday about how the record low temperature for today was -21 degrees Fahrenheit at the Tri-Cities Regional Airport in Blountville TN, in 1985. That reminded me of where I was that day. I was working as a ski lift operator at Ski Beech on top of Beech Mountain NC. I don't remember what the temperature was there. The temperature hit -32 degrees at nearby Grandfather Mountain . Mount Mitchell reached -34, which set the record for the whole Eastern Seaboard. .This vicious cold spell was called The Freeze of the Century .
We stayed the night on the mountain and slept in the lift office. I got up and put on my usually adequate cold weather clothing and started the walk to my station. It was crystal clear and sunny. It looked beautiful. It didn't feel beautiful. The cold knocked me up one side and down the other. To say it was like walking into a freezer is a complete understatement. That kind of cold defies description. It is downright dangerous.
It works its way right through winter gear and right to the bone. It takes your breath away. I don't remember it being windy. Thank God for that. I don't have any idea of what the wind chill would have been like.
We usually switched off about every thirty minutes or so. That day we switched every ten. That was about as long as we could stand it. We had to check the customer's faces after every run for frostbite. We sent several to the Ski Patrol office for first aid. I don't see how the skiers stood it. They were tougher than I was.
When thinking about that I have to respect people who live in climates where the temperature is that low on a regular basis. I guess you can get used to anything.
January 1985 Record-breaking Cold: National Weather Service
Note: The links for Tri-Cities Regional Airport and Grandfather Mountain are weather record pages.
|"Andre The Blog Monkey's Banana Bar"
January 3, 2021 prompt:
True confessions: Tell us why you'll always be a hippy.
I am what you could call a second generation hippie . I grew up after the main hippie era in the 1960s. I went through various experiences that made me slip gradually into the hippie worldview.
I was born in 1962. I saw a few hippies in the '60s, but was too young to really understand what they were. Hippies were often on the news that was on every evening, standing opposite the years long stream of the horrors of war coming out of Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos.* This contrast worked its way into my young mind. I think that was the beginning of my transformation. These disturbing images continued until 1975 when I was 14.
In middle school, I realized that I was a really nerdy looking square sort of kid. I couldn't handle that. I started growing my "Hair" and started getting into Rock and Roll music. I listened to music from the'70s at first, and worked my way back to some of the more psychedelic music of the'60s. I got to hanging out with the partyers. Some of them were long haired, but I wouldn't really call them hippies. They didn't have the values of peace and love.
Later, as a young adult, I got to hanging around with a larger variety of people, mostly partyers. Some were questionable, to say the least. I suppose that I was fortunate to have survived. Others were good honest people. Some were true original hippies. I saw the good in their values and worldview.
I eventually altered my state of mind permanently, opening it to what I perceive myself to be, a hippie. I can be nothing else.
Here is a good overview of the ways of hippies. I don't live all of it. I take what is good for me from the hippie lifestyle. For example, "free love" in its fullest form isn't healthy these days. It never was that appealing to me anyway.
Hippies From A to Z
*Though I am not a lover of war, I do support our military and veterans.
Word Count: 362
I really relate to this song. It helped me realize something about myself that I never knew about before.
I live under a big load of stress all the time. I’m not going to go into the causes here. This is more about the symptoms.
I go through life handling all the problems to the best of my ability without showing much of a reaction to any of it. I keep my cool through all the worry and I do what needs to be done, or at least what I think needs to be done. I smile while I’m doing it. Whether it’s financial, health or whatever, I deal with it. I don’t even realize that anything is bothering me.
The problem is that stress is cumulative. It builds up to a critical mass. It might take a month. It might be a couple of weeks or days depending on the heaviness of what’s going on. Then all of a sudden I walk into a low hanging branch that slaps my glasses off my face, or five pounds of frozen meat falls out of the freezer onto my bare foot at three o’clock in the morning. Instant rage! I spit out a stream of the most ungodly cussing that ever befell an unfortunate set of virgin ears! I jump around and possibly kick a chair with the uninjured foot, which only makes it worse. All this happens before I know what is going on. Then I hear my wife from the other room yelling “What the hell is wrong with you?”
Listening to It’s The Little Things a few times helped me to realize that those minor irritations aren’t what is bothering me. It’s all the accumulated stress of the big hard things that I have to deal with. The little things are just a catalyst.
I don't really do New Year's resolutions, but I think it might be a good idea this coming year to try to deal better with the stress of those big things.
My wife Lesia and I had the pleasure of seeing Alice Cooper's Brutally Live tour in Knoxville TN in 2000. It included It's the Little Things.
|"Blogging Circle of Friends "
DAY 3319 December 10, 2021
On this day in 1907, Rudyard Kipling receives the Nobel prize for literature, the first English-language writer to do so. What is Mr. Kipling best known for? Poetry or Children's stories?
The prompt asked which Kipling is best known for, poetry or Children’s stories? He is a master of both, and also adult literature. I am more familiar with his prose. I have loved and enjoyed his work since before I could read.
The distinction between his poetry and prose blurs sometimes. Here are some examples:
“Then Kolokolo Bird said, with a mournful cry, ‘Go to the banks of the grey-green greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever trees, and find out.” From The Elephant's Child
“And he went back through the wet wild woods waving his wild tail, and walking by his wild lone." The Cat That Walked By Himself
Both quotes are from Just So Stories for Little Children
When, I was little my mother took me to see the Disney movie based on Kipling's novel The Jungle Book . I liked it very much. Since I enjoyed it, Mom bought me a copy of the above album “Just So Stories Volume 1: The Elephant’s Child and The Cat That Walked By Himself”, read by Sterling Holloway. Holloway's distinctive voice fits Kipling’s poetic prose perfectly. He also voiced Kaa the python in the movie The Jungle Book
When I got a bit older I read more of Kipling’s work including Kim and Stalky and Co. which demonstrate that he is not limited to children’s literature. The imagery and descriptions in Kim bring colonial India to life.
I studied Kipling in an English Literature class. Here I learned about a less positive characteristic of Kipling. He was a strong proponent of Empire, both for England and the United States of America. This is evidenced by his poem The White Man's Burden . This poem seems to say that it is the responsibility of the white man to "civilize" people of color whether they like it or not.
"In 'the white man's burden', Kipling encouraged the American annexation and colonization of the Philippine Islands..."
This aspect of Kipling’s character disturbed me. Still, I am not one to "cancel" someone’s work based on something I disagree with. I can dislike The White Man’s Burden while still loving his other work.
|"Blogging Circle of Friends "
Day 3316: December 7, 2021
Prompt: The time everything changed in the blink of an eye.
I don't want to recount the time I almost lost my wife. I entered the link to my piece about it.
Everything did change in the blink of an eye that day. It was one of the scariest things I have ever lived through. After the crisis was over things continued to change.
I was a caregiver before that happened. After it was over my wife needed much more care. She still does. She can't be left alone at all now.
It is hard, but she's worth it. She is the only person that I believe would do the same thing for me if the shoe were on the other foot. She is the love of my life.
The other day I entered the Merit Badge Mini-Contest in Robert Waltz 's blog entry "There's No Ham in Hamburger" . Robert announced the winner in the entry "Bubble Rap" . I like my entry, so I decided to put it here.
In the comments below, describe your perfect burger. It can be one you've had or, as in my case, a Platonic ideal that I've never quite achieved (though I've come close). It doesn't have to have the "classic" toppings; I also like, for example, mushroom-swiss burgers. Nor does it have to contain dead animal.
This hamburger will be one that I would like to have, but probably will never be able to get all the ingredients together.
The bun is the foundation of a burger, so I will start with that. I would like a multi-grain bun using ancient grains. I want the ancient grains more for the flavor and texture, though any health benefits would be good too. I would want some quinoa both in the dough and sprinkled on top. I like the way the quinoa grains pop between the teeth. I would want it to be sourdough with a little sorghum molasses or wildflower honey added to the dough. Mix some imperial stout and some good quality lager. Add just a little to the dough. Save the rest of the beer. I’m not much of a baker so I would hire a good one to custom make the buns.
For the patties I would use a mixture of bison and venison with just a little of a good cut of beef, ground together with some lemongrass and just a few ramps. Add a little of the beer mixture to the meat while grinding it.
Grill the burgers over charcoal with hickory and apple wood chips. Keep the lid on the grill.
Make a mixture of ramps, mushrooms and poblano peppers. Wild mushrooms like morels, chicken mushrooms and chanterelles would be good. The poblano peppers would add a bit of heat. Marinade the vegetables in the beer mixture for about an hour. Save the liquid.
Put the vegetables on top of the burgers while cooking them. Take them off when turning the burgers. Put them back on the other side. Use the marinade liquid to baste the burgers while cooking.
When the burgers are nearly done, put a couple of ramp leaves and a few basil leaves on each burger. Top them with some good sharp cheddar. Let the leaves wilt and the cheese melt.
Put each burger on a bun. Top them with the smoked ramp and mushroom mixture. Add some branch lettuce and some good tomato. The tomatoes should be good vine ripened garden tomatoes, not the tasteless supermarket tomatoes.
Put just a touch of good brown mustard on each one.
Unfortunately the ramps are in season before the tomatoes are ripe, so it’s impossible to have the two at the same time.
|1Blogging Circle of Friends prompt:
It's been 20 years since 9/11 . Do you feel the battle against terrorism is better off or is it worse?
Do you think we've got a handle on far-right extremism or are we in over our heads?
20 years ago today we were attacked in the worst act of war by a terrorist organization on our own soil. Since then many new security measures have been implemented. We also have military drones that can reach out and attack terrorists where they live and congregate. These things make it much harder for foreign terrorists to attack us here at home and at our embassies and other places.
Though effective,drones have their disadvantages. The risk of civilian casualties is high. There is also the problem of faulty intelligence causing innocent people to be targeted.
I believe that extremism is a serious danger. The prompt asks about far right extremism. The far right is attracting more attention right now. Far right extremists are getting bolder.
There is a history of far left extremism in this country as well. There is always a chance that they could become more active. Some examples of far left extremism include The Weather Underground in the US, and the Red Army Faction , or Baader-Meinhoff Gang, in Europe. These groups were most active during the early 1970s.
Though I am personally more liberal than conservative, I see danger from both extremes.
I find it interesting that the Weather Channel gave one of its shows the same name as a terrorist organization. Was it to make a statement, or did they just not realize it?
I wrote a short dystopic piece a while back about what might happen if right-wing militant groups got out of control. Somebody got offended within 15 minutes. I ended up making it private in order to keep from causing arguments. If anyone wants to read it, let me know in a comment here, or email me. I will give you the passkey. It really isn't All that controversial.
|I saw something on CBS Mornings and on the local news this morning that together really burned my hide.
According to CBS Mornings, there was a disturbing statistic. There were 232,000 new pediatric Covid-19 cases during the past week.
In an interview on News Channel 11, in Johnson City TN, a woman was complaining about mask mandates in schools. She said something along the lines of “We just want to get back to normal.” I thought “Honey, what the hell is wrong with you?”
I’m sorry to break it to all you people. This ain’t normal. People like that who act like it’s normal are exactly the ones who are keeping things from getting back to normal. If everybody did what they should, I believe that we would all be much closer to normal than we are now.
I have a stake in the masks in schools debate. Several schools in Northeast Tennessee have mask mandates. Unfortunately our wonderful Governor Bill Lee, in his infinite wisdom, signed an executive order requiring mask mandates in Tennessee schools to have an “opt-out” option. This allows people like our “normal” friend to allow their children to go to school maskless. It must be remembered that this is the same Governor that declared Covid-19 a “controlled public health issue” a couple of months ago.
My son has two stepdaughters. They are 8 and 11 years old. They are our granddaughters in every way. Justin and Maggie are meticulous about doing the right thing about Covid. They both still work from home and have groceries delivered. They are both vaccinated.
In spite of their parent's best efforts, both children are in isolation because of positive Covid tests. Who knows? Maybe they would have caught it anyway without the "opt-out". I can't help but believe that they would have stood a better chance of avoiding it if all students were masked.
They aren’t seriously ill, thank the Lord. Still, we have to worry about Multisystem inflammatory syndrome now.
I pray that enough people will do the right things going forward so that we can finally get to a real normal.
|"Blogging Circle of Friends " [E] Prompt:
Write about your favorite pet. If you don't have a favorite pet write about an unusual pet someone you know has.
I have had quite a few pets that I love very much, God rest their souls. I am petless right now. It would be hard to pick a favorite. For this prompt, I will write about two canine friends. Brothers really.
Lonnie (Lonzo) and Milburn were two dogs I had back in my wilder days. I named them after two brothers who lived near me.
I partied hard in those days. I didn't have a car at the time, so I hitchhiked nearly everywhere I went. When I left the house, the critters would follow me. I worried that they would follow me till I got a ride, but not find their way home. I tried every way to run the stubborn critters back to the house. I finally gave up. It didn't take long for me to realize that I didn't need to worry. I could walk for miles before I got a ride. When I got home, the beasts always were waiting for me. I would sometimes be off partying for days. The faithful ones welcomed my bedraggled hide home every time. Don't worry. I always left them plenty of food and water.
Lonzo liked to sing. Try to imagine a bunch of people in various states of mind singing with a hairy dog.
"Show me the way to go home"
"Aawoo woo woowoooo"
"I'm tired and I want to go to bed"
"Aaawwooo woo Woooo Wooooo!"
"I had a little drink about an hour ago"
"And it went right to my head"*
"Aawoo wooo woooo woo!"
And so on.
Unfortunately Lonzo got poisoned. I found him in the yard one day, too late to help him. I don't know if somebody had something against me and took it out on Lonzo, or if it was random.
Milburn lived quite a while longer. He eventually went nearly blind. He almost ran off of a cliff once. It scared me very badly. During the Blizzard of 1993, he blindly ran off a bank into over six feet of snow. I had to slide down the bank into snow over my head to get the poor critter out.
I ran into some hard times and had to leave Milburn in the care of some friends. I fortunately picked good people. They took good care of my old friend until his dying day. He had the habit of running his head under my arm. I still remember him doing that the day I had to leave him. It hurt. It still does.
*I wrote this song in just because I can't remember any specific examples. He would do it to any song.
|I wrote this while I was working on my story "Ailurophobia" . It doesn't make a whole lot of sense, so I didn't want to make it an item in my portfolio. I kind of like it, so I'm putting it here.
While doing research for my short story 'Ailurophobia', I stumbled upon something dangerous. I now know the real truth about cats. Unfortunately, the cats know that I know. In search of a good story, I found myself in extreme danger. Because she lives with me, my wife Lesia is in danger too. The cats have formed a conspiracy to make sure that what I know never gets out.
I first noticed that our own cats won’t let me out of their sight. They follow my every step, with malignant stares. Then strange cats began to gather outside. There are always always at least three strange cats at each door. The guard changes about every four hours or so. They want to be sure that the guards are alert.
More and more cats are gathering in the yard. There are fifty or sixty out there right now. When I went to the mailbox, they kept pushing closer to my legs, and trying to get their claws in me. I know that as soon as they have gathered enough troops, they will storm the house. I don’t expect to last more than a few days. In case we don’t make it, I have put my story and research notes in a secure location, with instructions to publish my report. I hope that this report is taken seriously. If not, it could mean the extinction of humanity itself.
Update: The siege continues. The ravenous beasts may be a divinely evolved version of us. They would want us to think so. I tend to think that they are an evolved version of something else. They had me recruited until I started looking into the issue. Like Philip K. Dick, I hit too close to reality.
The numbers of the critters have increased to a few hundred, and continues to grow. It looks like a sea of beast backs extending from the edge of the porch to the road. Our neighbor from across the road braved this outfit to check on us. I asked her to call Animal Control, as we have no contact with the outside world (yes, I am online. I never said that this would be logical). She agreed. Unfortunately, she didn’t make it home. A wave of feline fIesh overtook her before she reached the road. I saw one of the enslaved dogs, a Great Dane, drag her remains into the garage under the apartment next door. I haven’t seen the neighbor from the apartment. His car hasn’t moved in days. I fear the worst.
This collection of critters seems to be led by an especially large one that I suspect may have some lynx in his lineage. We're hanging on to the last of the hope that we can manage to muster.