Saturday, January 31, 2009 No comments

Weekend Cinema

Fast, easy, free… with Weekend Cinema, you don’t have to settle for only two.

Today’s selection was a 2007 finalist for the YouTube Awards. It has a Twilight Zone feel to it, although the ending might be a little obvious. See what can be done with two actors, a desk, a key… and a Black Button.

hat tip to Daughter Dearest

Wednesday, January 28, 2009 11 comments

Big V, Off On (With?) the Wrong Foot

It seems that Big V took a tumble in the shower a couple weeks ago, and broke her leg near the ankle and a bone or two in the arch of her foot. Now it must be remembered that Big V isn’t the most stable isotope on the periodic table; she has diabetes and lives on junk food anyway. So it’s no surprise that she didn’t do anything about her foot until infection set in… and she’s already lost a toe on one foot (not sure which, relative to the broken one). So by the time she finally got around to seeing the doctor, she ended up getting sent to a hospital in Decatur. Her glucose level was around 500 by then, so Job One was getting that down to something approaching normal while Job Two involved tackling the infection.

Meanwhile, there’s a lawn care business to run. Cousin Splat has been doing a lot of the work, but he doesn’t have much management skill (and will blow off a day of work for whatever reason). Big V’s husband has taken up truck driving — staying away to keep the marriage together, perhaps — so guess who got stuck managing things? Yup… Mrs. Fetched. Big V gave her power of attorney, and she’s busy trying to reassure clients that they’ll get serviced while trying to dig the bank accounts out of an impressive hole. “You think we have financial problems?” she reassured me. “You ought to see this.” She’s been spending a lot of time down at the hospital with Big V, just to keep abreast of what’s going on there and partially to keep her from talking someone into getting her a bag of sugar bombs. She keeps asking for this and that, Mrs. Fetched keeps telling her no — it’s likely that she’s going through junk food withdrawal. Seeing as she’s going to be in some kind of managed situation for the next couple of months, maybe she’ll have a chance to develop new habits before coming home. There was some doubt at first that Big V would come home with both feet attached, but at least that outcome is starting to look more likely. In the hospital, they can control her diet.

So last night, Mrs. Fetched asked me, “What do you think? How is this going to work out?”

“The same way it always does for people who get involved with Big V,” I said. “Badly. It’s going to turn into a big hairball and end with some kind of screaming match.”

“Yeah, well… I couldn’t just let them lose their house.”

True. The attempt has to be made, although it’s not going to end well. Now if Cousin Splat can get a clue about how serious things are…

Monday, January 26, 2009 5 comments

FAR Future, Episode 70: Not a Bang, but a Whimper

A while back, Yooper pointed out that the “FAR Future” is not even 15 years from now. It’s like that Don Hendley song, In a New York minute, everything can change. Sounds implausible, even… FARfetched? [sorry, couldn’t resist] But things elsewhere have changed even faster and more drastically, even in modern history: Sarajevo hosted the Winter Olympics in 1984 and was Hell on Earth by 1993.

Monday, March 6, 2023
Not a Bang, but a Whimper


The Final-We-Hope-Offensive is underway. The Rotters have been pushed out of Fort Worth and Grapevine, and the airport is no longer surrounded. Fort Worth fell so quickly that some thought perhaps the Rotters had been bluffing all along, but Arlington was the other think coming. They might not have much of an air force (a few choppers), or more armor than what they were able to loot from the TX National Guard, but they do have artillery and trained (and motivated) grunts. Lots of ex-army and ex-Marines, some of them active duty until late last year. It doesn’t help that our side is trying to minimize the ever-euphemistic “collateral damage” (i.e. “oops, we scrogged some civilians”), and the Rotters know that, and are taking advantage. The air force will still splatter an artillery placement in some neighborhood even if the explosion takes out a few houses, but they try really hard not to miss and follow up with fire-suppression choppers. But if we try not to damage people’s houses, the Rotters try not to damage the freeways. That gives the good guys an advantage too… we have tanks placed on their southern flank (I-20), and eastern and northern flanks (I-635) — blocking major in/out routes, and they’re not taking any artillery fire.

As they did in Houston, the Guard is in Fort Worth to heal various battle scars and get the lights back on. If the Rotters have electricity now, they’re generating their own… one of the first things a reunified neighborhood gets is electricity, and that makes most of the people there pretty happy to be back in the USA. The broadcast TV is being jammed right now; the self-styled Minister of Moral Values was clogging up all the Dallas stations anyway, exhorting people to fight on for the glorious “Christian Republic” and (worse) recommending stuff like “all Christians across America who support the traditional values taught by the Bible are to rise up and take their country back.” I guess they can still exhort their grunts on cable, but at least the real world is left out of it. I think they were saying something about re-opening a station in Fort Worth, but maybe they’ll just have the cable on there too.

Kim’s still in Tulsa. He called us on Friday for his normal chat with Christina and the rest of us. Mrs. Fetched asked him if things were getting any better there, and to our surprise he said they were. “I went into a coffee shop yesterday to get our morning joe,” he said, “and a couple of the locals were in there talking with the barista. They let me get my order in, then one of them offered to help me carry it out. He said the preacher asked them in a prayer meeting that if God wanted the Rotters to win, why are they losing? So maybe things are starting to look up.”

Amazingly enough, I got an email from Col. Mustard over the weekend too:

Typing this on a cellphone. Dont know if youll get it or not. I guess you know whats going on down here. Me and a couple of the guys were talking about Nickajack last night, and we were joking about getting you down here to film the final battle. They probably wont let you in though, haha. I know you didnt support us, but hope youll pray for us anyway. You were an ok guy. Got a war to fight, hope Ill see you again.


Yeah, we all said a prayer for them, and I emailed him back saying we did pray for them and I hoped to see him as well. We also prayed that their leaders will come to their senses and surrender, but I didn’t bother telling him that — he probably knows. Heck, for that matter, he might just be hoping for the same thing himself. Like I said, those guys weren’t stupid, even if they had some far-out ideas about how things work (or should work). I hope the guys I was with that day are all smart enough to stay alive. But when I showed Mrs. Fetched the message, she looked at me and said, “You’re not thinking about it, are you?” I wasn’t… at least for more than a couple seconds, anyway. 64 is too old for that kind of stuff.

Farming is getting to be a reasonable way to make a living again. We’ve already taken enough orders to account for all the herbs we plan to grow this year. We’ve got our own garden started in cold frames… and wouldn’t you know it, Mrs. Fetched has a flock of chickens again. At least it’s only a dozen or so, a few layers and a few broilers, instead of 80,000. And a rooster to keep them reproducing. We had to fence in a place for them, because the dogs kept wanting to chew on them. At least we can move the fence around; we have them in the garden beds now where they can scratch out the weeds and eat all the bugs (and fertilize it). We’ll probably have to move them in a couple of weeks and let the poop mellow with age.

Heh. If things had gone the way everyone expected them to (i.e. endless growth), I’d be retiring this year. I gave up on retirement long ago, but with Guillermo and Maria to help, it’s not terribly hard work. But we’re all getting older, and Christina’s work is too important to throw it all on her, so we’ll probably have to get some younger faces in here eventually. Maybe Kim and Rene will take over once they get out of the army.

continued…

Friday, January 23, 2009 10 comments

Spring #3 Comes In Like a… Wildcat? a Bird?

This is one way to visualize spring #3 on Planet Georgia:

Forecast

The real spring is on the way, the one that all too quickly turns into summer. You know this by the birds you have to chase out of your garage:

Trasher in the garage

Of course, being a thrasher, it’s a contrary little SOB. Even with the garage door wide open, we couldn’t get it to leave. I’ll try again in the morning… and it will leave even if I have to toss its mangled corpse out myself. It’s not going to nest in there and crap all over my car.

Because my car already has enough crap all over it… and it’s sad:

dirty car

Meanwhile, things have gotten ever so slightly dangerous out there on the grounds of the free-range insane asylum. It seems that a cougar (and not the kind you drive or buy a drink) or other large cat has wandered into the area and has decided it really likes to snack on horses. Big V had a horse killed night before last, and another nearby farm has also lost a horse. There’s some speculation that it might be an escapee from a nearby sanctuary, since it doesn’t seem to bother cows too much. Not that the cows can relax… there are coyotes after them. A young guy helping Mrs. Fetched sighted some today, and wasn’t happy about it.

It would be nice if the wildcat came and ate the stupid bird, then ran off the coyotes before finding its way back home. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 8 comments

Intentional?

I wander into Burger King for a veggie burger, and see that they have a new sandwich they call the “Angry Whopper.” It's your basic Whopper with jalapeños, hot onions, and an “Angry Sauce.” Of course, you can get it with a combo.

So you can go to McDonald’s and get a Happy Meal, or go to Burger King and get an Angry Meal.

DoubleRed suggested you could get a Horny Meal at Wendy’s, forgetting that The Boy and Snippet work there…

Monday, January 19, 2009 4 comments

FAR Future, Episode 69: Besieged

Tomorrow, a rotter rides off into the sunset. And America rejoices. In 2023, it’s taking a little longer.

Friday, January 27, 2023
Besieged


I expected this to be over by now, but I don’t guess it will last until spring. It looked like it would be over in a week at first… the feint from Oklahoma drew the Rotters north and gave the Navy SEALs and Marines pretty much free rein for the landing parties all up and down the coast. Houston saw some fighting, a few oil rigs got sabotaged, but by the end of the week the Rotters had retreated to the maze of freeways that make up the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Another contingent of Marines secured the DFW airport, but in a telephone interview one jarhead described it as “a siege within a siege.” I can imagine that’s got to be hairy… you’re surrounded by enemy troops who are in turn surrounded by your guys. I don’t think either side wants to see the airport take a lot of damage, which might explain why there hasn’t been an effort (yet) by the Rotters to re-take it.

Our guys are allowing in food and water shipments, some of which come in through the airport. Some people thought that was a bad idea, and would let the Rotters hold out longer, but the way I see it you don’t starve out your own citizens. We’re also allowing them a few hours of electricity per day, and broadcasting offers of amnesty for Rotter troops who want to surrender. Those that slip out to the perimeter get processed, put on a bus, and shipped up to Tulsa. Kim is still in Tulsa, thank God… bad enough, but starting to get better. He told us a couple weeks ago that the people there are behaving (they started cutting off water and sewer for a day to any neighborhoods that make trouble, and word got around quick); all they’re doing is debriefing ex-Rotters and sending them on their way. The grunts get a ticket to wherever; officers have a do a little jail time and sign an agreement to stay away from the oil industry and politics for life.

The Reserves are doing a lot of rebuilding work in Houston right now. People whose windows got broken during the skirmishes, for example… a team comes, assesses the damage, and brings repair materials. Lots of abandoned houses have been torn down, and glass is glass. It also seems to go a long way toward reconciling the residents with being part of the USA again — the President of late has been hammering the message “we take care of our people” on the airwaves. I know a lot of people on Planet Georgia have reconciled too; even here, a lot of people had gotten frustrated with the stupid maneuvers of the junta in general and the ham-handed antics of the Pat-Riots in particular. There was some Riot-cleansing in Atlanta, but The Prophet spoke against it: “Forget not the words of the Lord, therefore forgive your oppressors. Do not lift your hand against them, but pray for their salvation that they might be reconciled with God.” His chroniclers posted a video showing two of the guys who tried to trick him a few years back, going to Corettaville and accepting his baptism. They claimed to have been changed by what they saw that day, and perhaps they were. Up north, it was a different story. Not even a Prophet can be everywhere, I guess, but I suspect if Riots on the run asked him for sanctuary they’d get it.

The new Congress got sworn in, and after some getting-acquainted time they’re starting to hit their stride. A lot of the old staffers were still around the DC area, and got pulled back into a new version of their old jobs. The President met with them all, as a body and in small groups, and now the reps are starting to form caucuses… both by region and by interest (with the lottery-based House election, there’s a pretty broad base of interests and skills). This might evolve into the old committee system, or it might turn into something new, an ad hoc committee system where members either know or are interested in the subject matter. The administration was letting them get their bearings before sending legislation, but the newsies tell us he sent them a huge stack of bills today, collectively titled the Restoration Acts. It’s not really an omnibus; the various caucuses will be looking at relevant parts of the stack and working with the administration to modify them. One exception: the Latino Repatriation Act was repealed pretty much right away. One caucus is looking over the legislation passed by the junta’s rump Congress, and recommending changes or repeals as needed… if I were there, I’d propose repealing everything they did and starting over from scratch. Fortunately, though, my name wasn’t drawn for the job. “FARf Goes to Washington” would be an OK name for a blog, but I’m glad I don’t have that issue. Those guys (minus the Texas contingent, which will be drawn after the Reunification) are plonking away at legislation, but nobody’s paying attention. I suppose if something controversial comes up, with a close vote, they’ll revisit it once the Texans are seated.

Anyway, we got a call from Serena yesterday. There was some kind of incident last week — junta plants were plotting to steal a bomber and aid the Rotters — but they got caught before they had a chance to try it, and Serena was one of the MPs in on the arrest. Ironically, none of the Texans she mentioned before were part of the plot, but they were all figuring they would be implicated. In fact, several of them simply walked into the MP post and said, “arrest me if you’re going to.” Much to their pleasant surprise, they were sent back to their barracks.

Now if we could get the kids sent home…

continued…

Saturday, January 17, 2009 2 comments

Weekend Cinema: Crass Free Advertising Edition

If it moves, and it's free, we want it for Weekend Cinema! Or something like that, anyway.

Now if these demonstrations don’t convince you that the iPhone is the Best. Thing. Ever. — well, you’re probably not a guy. I mean, for 99 cents… well, just watch the demos!



Or…



I’m just… shook up. Can’t decide which app I should get. (I must also find a suitable photo of Mrs. Fetched to, um, animate.)

Hat tip to The Register, always carrying the most important technology news.

An Open Letter

From: FARfetched
To: “Climate change skeptics” and other Global Warming deniers

Undoubtedly, many of you have been strangely warmed by the first Alberta Clipper to come south in about five years. Those video clips of snowbound New Englanders and Chicagoans, even if you’re one of them, have given you that warm fuzzy feeling of vindication… here’s your “proof” that you know better than those intellectuals — what do they know? After all, they’ve only spent their entire careers studying the incredibly complex system we call the Earth’s climate.

Well, here’s a news flash for you, Bubba… have you checked the calendar lately? This is the season known (in the Northern Hemisphere anyway) as “winter.” The birds fly south to warmer climes, snow falls in the north, people put away their boats and get out their skis? Remember? It’s cold because it gets cold this time of year. Do you really think that global warming means palm trees will start growing along Buffalo’s Lake Erie waterfront? Don’t be silly.

Winters are a lot less harsh than they used to be, not only in my lifetime but since I moved to Planet Georgia in 1982. Back then, hard cold snaps like this were a yearly occurrence, and below-zero (F) temperatures something you’d see roughly every other year. Not any more — the weather dudes tell us our single-digit temps are the first in 5 years, and we haven’t seen below-zero weather for 10 to 15 years. In Michigan, people now complain bitterly about large amounts of cold and snow that were commonplace when I was a kid.

Don’t take my word for it, look at what’s been happening to global temperatures over the last 160 years or so:

Global temperature rise since 1850

Sure, there are blips either way, but since the Industrial Revolution kicked into high gear the trend has been up. This year might be a blip down, maybe not. I noted last year that August was a lot more pleasant than usual; only the first few days were over 90F here.

There’s also that little minor detail about the Arctic ice cap, and how it seems to be getting smaller nearly every year. By the way, the chart above depicts average temperature rises; the Arctic is warming much faster than… say, the southeastern US.

So enjoy your shot of cold weather; it will be gone in a few days. I know I enjoyed a milder than usual August last year; if a few days of bug-killing cold is the price to pay for that, I’ll pay it. None of us know exactly what the weather is going to bring us in two weeks, let alone a month; the farther out we go, the more we have to rely on trends (which suggest warming overall) and computer models (ditto). But I do know that we’ll all be bitching about how hot it is in 6 months or so.

Thursday, January 15, 2009 8 comments

Full of Empty Buildings

Winter #3 has arrived on Planet Georgia. I bundled up and took a little walk around the block at lunch yesterday.



Empty parking lots, quiet shop floors… It could be a Saturday. But it was Wednesday at lunch, and this is one of several buildings, within a short walk of the office, that stand empty. Of the businesses within sight of the office, three of them went away in 2008. Sure, they might have found bigger or cheaper digs, but it’s more likely — since the buidings remain empty months later — that they simply faded away.



So what do developers think of this? Why, put up more office space, of course! This went up in the last year, down a cul-de-sac across from the office. The awnings and faux towers at the corners, in my mind, give it a sort of retail-ish look. It’s huge, it’s pretty… and empty as a politician’s promise.



Traffic during rush hour gets pretty horrendous along this stretch of road, that connects two major thoroughfares, so they’re working on four-laning it. Of course, that’s not stopping “them” from putting up more construction alongside. That’s a retail development on the left, so far with only one State Farm office and a restaurant “coming soon.” Just about all the buildings on the right are “medical office” space, with the last two buildings empty and the closer ones maybe half-occupied.

So this is what the beginning of a recession looks like… new buildings going up while the old ones are emptying out.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009 14 comments

The Riches of Doing

Yesterday, Merlin Mann wrote a thought provoking blog piece: Re-Potting with Resources: What Would You Make? (43 Folders). He asks the question: If, tomorrow morning, you had 60% of the time and resources you needed to start making anything you wanted, what would it be? And, what would you do first?

Then this morning, my blog-buddy Nudge wrote a piece she called What is Wealth?

These two posts started resonating with each other, forming a chord that was greater than the sum of the two notes. The context, or key (as in the key of G) if you will, is what Mann calls “a blood-curdling recession.” Nudge speaks of the laid-off millions, wondering how they’re going to keep the lights on and their heads under a roof… and Mann asks them all you have plenty of time, and you have some resources… now what do you do with them?

My answer to Nudge’s question sounds flippant, but I was dead serious: screw the dictionary definition, wealth is whatever you say it is — because wealth means not only different things to different people, but different things to the same people at different times. For a long time, my personal definition of wealth was “not having to work for a living” — but that’s a binary definition of wealth. That definition says you either have it or you don’t, when in fact you can have some wealth, but not enough to give employment the finger and walk away. Before allowing myself to be saddled with FAR Manor, we had the old place paid off and no car payments, just a bunch of credit card debt that we were working off. I wanted nothing to do with a mortgage before getting rid of all other debts and building up a decent down payment, so we could make a house payment and still put some savings away. Way-ell… anything that wasn’t “yes dear” was summarily ignored until I wore down enough to say “to hell with it, if we get foreclosed we get foreclosed.”

These days, my personal concept of “wealth” is simply the time to do what I want to get done. Subtract sleep time, commute time, work time, meal time, cleanup time, then whatever little “surprises” wait for me when I’m home, and there’s very little left over for wealth. Sure, I have all the “stuff” I want and then some, but what I don’t have is the time to do much of anything with it. In this vein of thinking, getting laid off would make me wealthier, simply because I’d have more time to work on my own stuff (whatever the heck that is now). The way things are now, I have a hard time taking Mann’s advice to Imagine you have almost what you need. Then, just start something. — if I don’t have the time and materials to finish what I start, God only knows when I’ll be able to get the last remaining time or materials to finish the job. My garage and studio are littered with projects that died half-finished, simply because they got derailed for so long that I either forgot about them or lost track of where I left off and what I needed to finish. I was able to finish the cold frame because I had 100% of the tools & materials, and insisted on making time for it, before I really started. But it’s not really finished; I still need to paint it and I either need to scrounge or buy some paint (and, again, make time to apply brush to wood).

What I can do, though, is make plans for doing things if/when I get laid off. And there are things that I can nibble on a little at a time… for example, I’ve nearly completed FAR Future, a work that will end up at least the size of an average novel, in odd hours or fractions of hours over the last year & a half. Focus on the positive, look for things that you can do, and (most important) use your successes to kick-start the next project.

Monday, January 12, 2009 8 comments

FAR Future, Episode 68: Starts Off with a Bang

This one’s a little shorter than usual, but that’s how they go sometimes. There’s a longer one coming up that will partially make up for it. :-)

Sunday, January 1, 2023
Starts Off with a Bang


On Planet Georgia and other places, there’s a tradition of shooting off fireworks to begin the new year. I guess they couldn’t get fireworks in Tulsa this year, so they firebombed two refineries instead. The fire department managed to get the Conoco fire under control pretty quickly. Sunoco… not so much. Kim texted us before we even knew anything had happened: OK here, wasn't anywhere close. Christina is still worried sick. The rest of us… we’re just worried.

Of course, most of the nation got the word when they went to watch the first Rose Parade since 2015, and were instead treated to night video of a raging refinery fire and the President blaming Rotter terrorists for the incident. The news ran an interview with a refinery employee who said something along the lines of “a bunch of guys in masks came in, pulled guns on us, then drove us outside the fence and set off their bombs.” They also said that the army has imposed a 72-hour curfew in both Tulsa and Oklahoma City, and various curfews in other cities around the country — Atlanta’s is fairly minimal, midnight to 6 a.m., but they have checkpoints and random searches for anyone crossing I-285 in either direction right now. (Which makes the “Perimeter” truly a perimeter, at least for now.) Local media are broadcasting contacts for anyone who needs food (in the total clamp-down areas) or emergency services. As a “balance,” they provided a press release from the Rotters denying responsibility for the bombing.

Some Rotter-symp blogs are claiming it’s a false-flag incident — in other words, the government bombed the refineries to have an excuse to clean out the RoT. Um… you mean, like trying to assassinate the President and inciting riots isn’t reason enough? Putting any kind of crimp in the flow of what little fuel we’re getting would be grounds for violent overthrow, and insta-polls are suggesting that nuking the Rotters outright wouldn’t be considered objectionable at the moment, even in the more junta/RoT-tolerant parts of the country like here. The news isn’t carrying much of anything but the refinery fire and the reactions, but I’ll bet the columns are already rolling toward Texas.

Rene is incommunicado — probably working double shifts — and Serena was able to get a quick email to us: Calls home suspended for a few. Sorry. Hope Kim's OK. I'll call when they let me.

Anyone else remember a book called The Texas-Israeli War: 1999? Only 24 years behind schedule, and Israel has too many problems of its own to be doing mercenary work for anyone else. At least they got the oil part right.

continued…

Thursday, January 08, 2009 5 comments

Cloudy days

Spring #2 is winding down, with Winter #3 set to arrive Sunday or Monday. It has been rainy except when it was relatively cold. Yeah, the sun comes out and it gets cold. Even the weather is psychotic on Planet Georgia.

Cloud bank

This was hanging over my head yesterday morning on the way to work. A little blue sky poked through here and there, but mostly it was dark and threatening. I thought I’d get to that lighter edge, or even past it, but it was either moving in the same direction (things were moving quickly yesterday) or was farther away than it appeared.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009 15 comments

When Animals Annoy

Being at FAR Manor, an in-law freakout wasn’t necessary to cut my staycation short and get me home — they were right there, after all.

The last few days, basically the weekend, was spent being farm labor. The poultry company decided to try putting four houses’ worth of chicks in two houses, the idea being it would cost much less on heat and they could move half of them after they got a little bigger. Sounded great on paper, but the crowding caused a rather large die-off — about 3000 chickens per house, more than usually die in an entire grow-out, croaked in the first week. Thus, much of the weekend was spent getting the other two houses ready; Sasquatch and Jar Jar were there to help as well. But a chicken house screw-up, as long-time readers probably know, is not unique or even much noteworthy.

Saturday afternoon, I was getting ready to take a nap when Mrs. Fetched piped up: “Call Dad, ask him if he’s going to feed the cows and see if he needs you to help him.” ARRRRRRGH!!! The timing is… incredible. How do they do that, and how do you make it stop? Anyway, the drill is that the helper goes down in the truck to open the gates. So I went on… and found eight cows already in the hay barn. I opened a gate and cussed them out, which got two of them out right away. Six to go… I climbed up over the hay, nearly falling down a hole of unknown depth once, and cussed out the other ones. Three of them left right away, leaving the three all the way down at the far end. I climbed across the hay and got them moving… and the $#!@$%!!! stupidogs chased them right back in! Lather, rinse, repeat. By the time my father-in-law got there with the tractor, I was entertaining thoughts of butchering a cow with my bare hands and BBQ’ing it on the spot, and launching dogs in a trebuchet to entertain myself while the beef was cooking. We got the dogs away, got the cows out, and fixed as much of the fencing as we could before it got too dark to see. I hadn’t planned on making any New Year’s resolutions, but I thought about resolving to eat more beef this year.

Went to bed Sunday night, hoping to get some sleep and get a good start back at work. But at 4:30 a.m., I was awakened by a plink plink plink sound from the bathroom.

“Oh, crap,” I said, waking Mrs. Fetched. “The toilet’s backing up.” I got up, not putting on my glasses, and went to see if I was right and how bad it was going to be. The water level was normal, but there were what looked like two “floaters” in the bowl. But… one was swimming.

“It’s a rat!” I bellowed, and slammed down the lid. “Or two of them!”

“How big?” Mrs. Fetched asked. “And how did they get in there?”

“I don’t know.” I was already looking for something heavy to sit on the lid, in case one of them managed to get to dry porcelain and tried to get out, and found a magazine rack. I dropped that on and went back to bed. I considered flushing for a moment, but was afraid it might clog the drain… and who’s to say it wouldn’t climb right back up?

“How do you think they got in?” Mrs. Fetched asked again.

“No clue… but I haven’t seen any rat droppings in the house. Maybe they got in through the drain vent — or maybe it was a squirrel that got in — and they came up from below.”

A thunderstorm an hour later pretty much put the kibosh on my getting any sleep, especially when Mrs. Fetched’s alarm went off at 6 (she had to be there to greet the chicken moving crew). Since the plink noises had quit a while back, I figured whatever it was had drowned, but I wasn’t taking any chances — I slipped a piece of glass between the lid and bowl, then raised the lid to find:

Dead squirrel in toilet

One small squirrel, not exactly alive. I grabbed the fireplace tongs and a bucket, and got it back outside where it belonged. I also managed to feel a little pity for a brief moment… but that was all. Not only had he taken a third of my night with him, he’d gone crawling into someone else’s den.

Only at FAR Manor.

I’m sure if I stuck my face in a squirrel’s nest, I’d get it bitten and scratched. Think of it as evolution in action.

Monday, January 05, 2009 9 comments

FAR Future, Episode 67: Letters on the Eve of War

Funny how this episode mentions Detroit, with all the Detroit-related chatter on some of the blogs I read. But I wrote this one in mid-October. Go figure.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022
Letters on the Eve of War


I suppose the government was willing to ignore the “Texas oil is for Texas” rhetoric coming from the Rotters — that kind of thing is often meant for “domestic” consumption, and a recent Gallup poll suggested that even Texans would be willing to ride the train and drive fuel-efficient cars if exports meant lower taxes for them. The government was probably willing to overlook their keeping a “little” extra oil for local consumption.

What they aren’t willing to overlook is an attempt to assassinate the President, and their agents provocateurs torching off riots in Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, and Detroit.

Things got a little tense at FAR Manor last week: Kim got re-assigned, sent to St. Louis to help restore order, and got wounded in the riots over the weekend. “Not much,” he said, “shot in the arm, a little flying glass, it looked a whole lot worse than it really was.” Christina was halfway to hysterical, but Mrs. Fetched and Maria got her calmed down. He was able to call and let us know what happened, so we knew he wasn’t seriously injured, and that was probably the point the ladies hammered on until it got through to her. Christina is in better spirits now, fortunately. This morning, she told me, “As soon as Kim gets home, we’re going to have a baby. I’m not going to pass up another chance.” I think she was joking. Rene is still doing whatever it is he’s doing, probably cracking Rotter traffic. He sent us a text message the other day: Holá, y’all, we scored a big one for the good guys! Later! We’re guessing they intercepted some chatter about the assassination attempt, which make Guillermo and Maria really proud of their son. Heck, we’re all proud of him. And Kim, Serena, and Christina, in no particular order.

We’re all worried about Kim right now… after the frying pan of St. Louis, they’re sending him into the fire of Tulsa. Tulsa and OKC are both Rotter-symp, and Kim tells us:

Maj. Buckley was in Iraq, and he said it’s a lot like Baghdad was. Most of the time, the civilians just glare at us, if they pay any attention at all. But every once in a while, someone will throw a Molotov cocktail or just a brick or something. We’ve got orders to not retaliate for bricks or rocks, but if there’s ever gunfire, look out. You get the sense that things could boil over at any time, for no good reason, and everyone’s on edge. Everybody knows that when we go after the Rotters, we’ll be using Tulsa as a staging point. We expect trouble, and lots of it, when the roll-out orders come.

We’re all on edge, and not because of the rock-throwers. Nobody really wants to shoot at our own people, as the junta found out, but now it’s working against us instead of them. We’re enforcing a dusk-to-dawn curfew, and we have to disperse assemblies of more than five people. It got really tense the other day when we had a couple dozen peeps gathered in front of a theater. I thought it was going to turn into a firefight for a minute, but then they finally broke up.


The Rotters want a fight, and it looks like they’re about to get one. I wondered whether they were going to bring in some of the bomber groups from Europe, but Serena tells us there isn’t any activity like that over there. Just a bunch of guys wanting to get in on the action, and a few Texans more than a little conflicted. We have plenty of Air Force bases in the country if it comes to that, anyway. Speaking of Serena: I had one of those dreams where I’m wandering down hallways and through endless doors and rooms, trying to get somewhere. In this one, I was in a theater or some other kind of venue, and trying to get to the stage. These dreams always feature me talking to someone I can’t see, and this was no exception. Somehow, I ended up down on the floor, looking at rows and rows of empty seats and a stage raised too high to climb onto. “So what’s the sense of getting on stage if there’s no audience?” I asked my invisible companion, then woke up. I emailed Serena about it, figuring it would amuse her. She replied, “You’re having acting withdrawal because I haven’t been there to put on the Thanksgiving skits! I’ve got something this year for when I’m home.” Obviously, she’s doing well.

Rene sent a pretty funny message too:

Holá, y'all. Sammy T got picked to be one of the Congresscritters from DC, so he got a discharge! Lucky SOB! Another EDID unit lost their commander (retirement), so they reassigned them to us. Maj. Shevchuk made me his second, so I’m getting promoted to corporal. At least I won’t be a grunt for my last year in, jejeje.

Other than that, we’re still doing our thing here. Very busy! Will write more when I can.


Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of activity in and around local churches. The Rotters, so say the rumors, have turned a lot of the more conservative ones into a fifth column and using them as recruiting centers and command posts. It does seem like a lot of the people caught trying to sabotage infrastructure and the like are affiliated with a right-wing church. At least none of them (that I’m aware of) are associated with Penitent churches like ours. Unfortunately, it looks like a major backlash is building — and I hope it doesn’t turn into full-fledged persecution. There have already been cases of arson against certain churches on nights when nobody is around, and tires being slashed (or outright car-B-ques) in parking lots during services. We haven’t seen any problems yet, but we’ve started to assign people to watch the parking lot during services or meetings. In some places, congregations have added “A Penitent Church” to their signage… no telling if it will be the pass-over sign or not.

We’re worried for our kids, especially Kim, and praying for them all. Christina stays worried these days.

continued…

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