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Monday, July 28, 2008 5 comments

FAR Future, Episode 44: High-Stakes Hide & Seek (part 1)

I knew a long time ago that I would be writing this episode. I just didn’t realize how long it would run.

Sunday, April 5, 2015
High-Stakes Hide & Seek (part 1)

I’m sure the junta has a file on me as a “member of the opposition.” But I’m more interested in helping people on an individual level than tearing things down at the governmental level — so local officials (I presume) give me a little leeway. Pat-Riots don’t make fine distinctions… but even while they don’t put many people between “us” and “the enemy,” the category of “people who don’t share my views but helped out my kin” lands pretty close to “us.”

Being a Pat-Riot, I have to say, has its hazards, especially outside the South. Here, there’s a long tradition of vigilante groups getting up in other people’s business, but that doesn’t make them universally loved. Sammy has told funny stories about 'Riots falling off ladders or even getting frozen to ladders, as they try to peek into “suspects’” second-story windows. Needless to say, the spied-upon can be rather slow to call 911 when they find a 'Riot injured in the bushes or stuck 10 feet off the ground… if they even go outside to check on what the commotion is all about. Even those who otherwise support the junta and their agenda often (privately) think the Patriot Clubs are an exercise in overreaching.

So when a Pat-Troll came to round up Guillermo’s family yesterday, several people let us know in advance and we were ready.

Our first stall tactic was to hang the steel cable across the driveway. The Riots skidded in the gravel, blared their horn for a few seconds, then one of them got out and unhooked it. Up the driveway they came, slinging gravel… in an old green H2 with a flashing red light bar. They had magnetic signs reading “OFFICIAL BUSINESS” slapped on the sides. Going for impressive, managing only pathetic.

They stopped at the front door and climbed out, leaving the light bar going and carrying crowbars. I pointed and laughed at their vehicle. “What junkyard did you find that piece of crap in?” I asked. “I hope you pushed it here. I’d hate for y’all to waste my tax money gassing it up!”

“Look you—” the smaller one snarled, raising his crowbar. He got one step before his partner put a hand on his shoulder.

“Not now,” he murmured; maybe he meant for me to hear it. He looked at me and said, “We are here on suspicion that you are harboring a gang of Mexicans, in violation of the Latino Repatriation Act of 2014.”

“Yeah,” the other one chimed in. “We’re authorized to search this house and detain anyone who can’t show proof of citizenship. I guess we can start with you.”

“You don’t have to search this place,” I said, twisting my hand and waving. They just looked at me… too young to be Star Wars fans, I guess. “There’s me, and I’ll bring out my birth certificate in a minute. My wife was born here in the county, and Kim and Serena were assigned to us as wards last winter. Und I vill get zee paiperzz for us shortly.”

“We’re gonna search, all right,” the little one said, slapping a palm with his crowbar. “And we’re gonna have a real close look at your proof of citizenship. Disrespect us and see what happens.”

“I don’t know if I’ll let you in my house or not,” I said. “Who ‘authorized’ this search? Do you have proof of your authorization, maybe a warrant or something?”

The little Riot got his response cut off by his partner. “Look,” he said. “I can understand you want to protect them — they’re your slaves, or servants, whatever. But the law’s the law, and we’re deputized to investigate violations of the law.

“And you’re right — we don’t have to search. Just bring ’em out and we’ll take them off, and we’ll forget the harboring charges.”

I’m still not sure if they were deliberately doing a good cop-bad cop routine or not. The little guy didn’t look like he had the brains to put on an act, anyway. “So who are these people I’m supposed to be harboring?”

Good Riot sent Bad Riot to the Dummer, and he returned with a clipboard. “Guillermo Cardenas, approximate age 34, male. Maria Cardenas, approximate age 32, female. Rene—” he pronounced it Reen “—Cardenas, age 12, male. And Christina Cardenas, age 10, female.”

“Oh, no wonder I was confused,” I said. “You mentioned a gang. They’re a family. Yup,” I nodded. “They were here. But they cleared out last fall… um, in October, I think.”

What?” Bad Riot nearly dropped his crowbar. “What kind of horseshit is that?”

“Guillermo said he didn’t want to cause any trouble,” I said. “Said they were going to Atlanta to get an exit permit, or whatever they call those things. It was supposed to let them travel to the nearest border point… I guess in Texas somewhere.”

Bad Riot shook his head, and Good Riot started at the clipboard. “Well…” Good Riot stammered, “um… our infor— our information must be a little out of date. In that case, we could just look around and verify they’re gone?”

“Yeah,” Bad Riot said, getting back on familiar territory. “If you ain’t got nothin’ to hide, you shouldn’t have a problem—”

At that moment, Mrs. Fetched came around the side of the house with Kim, Serena, and the new herd dog (Butthead went to the Great Porch in the Sky a couple months ago). The dog took one look at the 'Riots and went into attack mode, and Kim barely caught his collar. The dog barked and thrashed, trying to get at the 'Riots, and the way Mrs. Fetched held her hoe suggested that she wouldn’t mind weeding out a couple of 'Riots herself. Serena put down her bucket and took a “ready” stance that I recognized from long-ago karate lessons. Kim looked at me and then at the dog.

I shook my head at them. “Ah,” I said to the 'Riots. “Here’s my wife and the kids I mentioned earlier. Are they white enough for you?”

Good Riot sighed, keeping an eye on the dog. “That’s not what we’re about,” he lied. “But this is already taking too long. We’ll waive proof of citizenship for y’all, if you’ll let us search the house now.”

“Well… you’ve already requested my papers, and I agreed to get them. After all, I’m a little more tan than the rest of my family, and your informant might have mistaken me for a Latino. After you check it, if you leave the crowbars in the shitmobile there, you can have a look around. I don’t want any ‘accidental’ holes in my walls.”

Good Riot cut off Bad Riot’s protest. “Fine. Get your certificate.”

“Will do. Let me tell them what’s up though. It’ll only take another second.” I trotted over to the corner. “Go over there and keep them entertained for a minute,” I told Mrs. Fetched, jerking a thumb at the 'Riots as they tossed their crowbars into the truck. “Kim, Serena, you kids stay back here. But if they try any funny business…”

“Cry ‘havoc’ and loose the dog of war?” Serena chuckled. She looked at the dog, no longer trying to get loose but still growling at the 'Riots.

“Yeah.” I trotted back to the front door. “Back in a minute,” I said as Mrs. Fetched ambled over.


Sunday, July 27, 2008 2 comments

Eating Local

What with the media hype about E.coli and salmonella in produce these days, the idea of a 100-mile diet seems like a smart idea. But yesterday, we managed to go a couple orders of magnitude better than that.

After a quick Saturday morning fence repair, Mrs. Fetched’s mom handed me a plastic bowl. “Can you grill this catfish?” she asked. “[someone] caught it out of the pond down below the house. I don’t want to heat up the kitchen but it needs cookin’.”

I thought for a moment. “I can give it a try,” I said. “I'll wrap it in foil with some onion and peppers.” She handed me a big bell pepper from the garden, and I took them home and added some basil and oregano from the front yard. If I had to do it over again, I would have used more foil and sealed it properly, but I had two pairs of tongs and didn’t lose anything. The body cavities were a little smaller than I expected, so I ended up putting stuff around the fish more than in it.

Side dishes were fresh corn and fried squash, both from the garden. In fact, the onion was the only ingredient that didn’t come from the farm. Next year, we might get the onions from the garden too.

Thursday, July 24, 2008 3 comments

Late-season Lilies

LiliesWe’re all tired of looking at the chicken houses this week. Fortunately, they were renditioned last night, and they should all be Good Chickens by now… in your local grocery or on the way. No more looking at broken breakers, no more piles of feed caused by a malfunctioning system, no more die-offs in power failures.

For a couple of weeks, at least.

Something a little more pleasant to look at showed up earlier in the week — some lilies decided to hold out for a month and gave us their own version of the Late Show. You know, that allium never did really bloom out — it’s making little seeds already. Maybe it was a short show and I missed it.

FAR Future is set for the next two Mondays — the upcoming episode ran huge, so I split it up. That gives me a little cushion, and I don’t intend to waste it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008 6 comments

FAR Future, Episode 43: Wallyworld Rising

Life has a tendency to get in the way of important stuff, like writing. I expect to be back on the normal Monday schedule next week.

Friday, February 13, 2015
Wallyworld Rising

Poor Rene. I told him he was welcome to write up something for this month, and I’d either write around it or just give the whole post over to him, depending on how much he had to say. He got about a paragraph written up and met Mr. Writer’s Block. He was nearly in tears about it, even after I told him that it happens to everyone no matter how long they’ve been writing. After he calmed down a bit, he wrote a little more and told me to just use it if I wanted… but of course! Here he is, folks:
Holá, y'all! (that's how we say hello at the manor, at least us kids do.) Farf-Dad said I could say whatever I wanted, but I couldn't think of anything. So I guess I'll talk about our nights. Farf-Dad helped with the spelling some.

In the winter, we sleep downstairs in the living room by the woodstove. We put down two mattresses, one for me and Kim and one for the girls. The Mom's say stuff about us being in the same room with the girls but I don't know why. We lay down so our heads are all together, so we can talk if we're real quiet. Sometimes Kim or Christina will say something funny, and we have to put our faces in the pillows to laugh so the grownups don't come out and tell us to hush. We've got a wind-up flashlight if we need to see to go to the bathroom, and Serena's really good at making shadows on the ceiling. We have to put it under all the pillows to wind it up though or the grownups will hear. One of us has to get up in the middle of the night and throw a log in the stove, usually Kim because he's the biggest. Christina likes to hold the flashlight so he can see, if she wakes up too.

I don't know why we can't always sleep downstairs like this. Just because the girls will get boobs won't make us estupidos or anything. [I’m trying not to editorialize; but kid… you have no idea. —FARf] We don't go right to sleep like they want us to, but we get up to help Mom with breakfast in the morning. Sometimes Kim has some problems getting woken up, but that's because he puts the wood in at night. He only burned himself once, on his arm, because he was trying to go too fast. It really upset Christina, but it wasn't bad.

I can't think of anything else.

I got him a spiral-bound notebook and told him to start writing stuff down in it as it comes to him, even if it he runs out of steam in the middle — he might pick it up later and then he won’t lose what he wants to write here. :-) He and Serena, of course, are the ones who do the best in English and the composition stuff I slip into their lessons. They’re all passable at basic math (except Kim, who’s pretty good at it) and biochemistry — but Christina (the youngest) grasped biochemistry faster than the others, making leaps into material they’re not even covering this year. If she gets much farther, she’ll get beyond anything I can teach her by summer. Not bad for a 10-year-old Mexican girl (sorry, I had to say that to raise the blood pressure of any Pat-Riots reading). Between that and her artistic talents, I get some rather interesting flow diagrams for her homework.

Down in Gwinnett County, some folks got together, took over an abandoned Wal-Mart and named it “Wallyworld.” I laughed for a long time over that one. I must not be the only one… it’s already starting to get used as a generic term. Some of the more serious people want the generic term to be “enclosed community,” but you know that won’t win — they’ll be called wallyworlds until the last one’s abandoned. They’ve even picked up on the name out in Pacifica, where they tend to be a little more organized about setting them up. Some of the Pacifica wallyworlds created an Enclosed Community Housing Organization (ECHO, bleh) that passes “best practices” info around and at least tries to suggest a few minimum standards for living conditions. Some of these places already have several hundred people in them… and I imagine the funk has claws if the ventilation isn’t good. ECHO’s website — one of the few Pacifica sites that the junta doesn’t interfere with — has plans for wind-power systems that have enough oomph to run LED lighting indoors. They keep the windmills cheap to build, but good enough to mark out main routes at night when it’s dark in there (the Wal-Mart buildings at least have skylights for daytime). I’m thinking about trying out the design and adding another windmill to FAR Manor, but I’d have to expand the battery bank and that’s expensive.

Each wallyworld seems to be developing its own flavor, depending on the people inhabiting them. All of them are trying different things to keep the great indoors warm through the winter, or at least not cold: indoor houses, closing off un-used sections (which involves lots of tarps), or suspended ceilings (more tarps). Even the junta, which mostly couldn’t care less about homeless people, is rounding up tarps for them.

At least they’re doing something useful with those big-box buildings.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008 8 comments

The Boy Sees Life from the Other Side

After yesterday’s debacle, there were a thousand (actually 1015) dead chickens to pick up. I was long gone to the job that pays something (but I had to ride home through thunderstorms, so it’s all even), so Mrs. Fetched rounded up The Boy and some other denizens of the trailer to help out. Afterwards, he came up to the manor and Mrs. Fetched asked him how things were going. He delivered himself of a laundry list:

1) A friend of his asked if he could stay there too, and he agreed. A week later, he’s told the guy to “get off his ass and get a job, he’s not freeloading off of me.”

2) Snippet skipped school today, complaining of “heavy cramps,” but was somehow OK to go swimming.

3) “I’m the only one who cleans up the place, and I’m tired of it!”

Yes, that hysterical cackling noise you might have heard this evening was probably Mrs. Fetched and me…


The #4 chicken house ate a main breaker this evening. As usual, I had to waste an entire evening doing nothing to solve the problem. Well… I tried, anyway. The in-laws really need to standardize on equipment — like using the same type of breaker panel in all four chicken houses, so they only have to have one kind of main breaker in the spares kit.

This was the first time I was stuck trying to replace a 200-amp main breaker. It wasn’t pretty. Now if they’d actually had the right kind of replacement, I might have been able to swing it. But the closest thing they had was a breaker that ASSumed the “service” cables came in from the top, and the broken breaker was a side-entry type. After wasting about two hours of my life, a real electrician came by and jury-rigged the top-feeding breaker to work. Maybe, just maybe, the whole barking thing won’t burn down tonight or tomorrow (“they” carry the chickens off come Wednesday).

So I’ve crawled into a bottle of rum for the evening, and it’s getting hard to type. Consider this a placeholder until I get the next FAR Future episode done… which, if there isn’t Yet Another Major Problem, should happen tomorrow (Tuesday) evening. (Dang, it’s already 1 a.m. Make that this evening.)

Sunday, July 20, 2008 9 comments

Daughter Dearest Gets Orientated

DD and the school mascotWhen things happen, they happen quickly. DD settled on a college: Reinhardt, a flurry of paperwork ensued, and yesterday was the orientation session (which they call SOAR, for Student Orientation And Registration — since their mascot is the Eagles… hey, I didn’t make it up).

Students and their entourage were greeted by a dancing eagle mascot out front of the student center, giving hugs and high-fives… so of course I had to get a picture. DD went along with it, but claimed I was embarrassing her. Maybe it was because I danced with the eagle a little bit (and she didn’t have the camera).

After a brief sign-in, we went downstairs for the greetings. After about 20 minutes, they split the students up into 5 groups and took them around for tours and info. The parents stayed put and got our own version of info-glut. They had the A/C up way too high, and more breaks would have been nice (they kept us for nearly two hours at one point, moving right from one session to the next). We broke for lunch, which was actually quite good (tons better than the dorm food I remember) and then a tour of the dorms. This was well-received by many of the parents, who were itching for an excuse to get out in the sunshine and thaw out.

First stop was one of the men’s dorms. The girls, and the parents of same, hung out in the lobby while the guys went to check things out. We “admired” the seriously ratty pit group in front of the TV. Only one of the girls had the guts to sit on it, and she took a corner. Daughter Dearest’s observation: “It smells of drywall, bricks and men. That’s comfort for a guy.” Ah, dry(wall) humor. On the way to the women’s dorm, I heard one of the guys opine, “my room has a great view of an electrical box,” which reminded me of some of the dorm views I had (a concrete wall, a cafeteria roof). We got to see the room that DD is assigned to: two rooms, one bath, four people. The big picture window looks out into the courtyard — not over the courtyard, into it. Where people can look back in. I think the blinds will be closed a lot. Her dorm is one of the last two that doesn’t have wireless, but does have Ethernet, so I’ll have to send a cable with her. She’s been trying to get in touch with her roomie, to see if she’ll bring a refrigerator or if DD should bring one.

Back to the student center for more sessions afterwards. Someone must have gotten the memo about the A/C, and the room was much for comfortable. We got to split into groups and discuss various situations that students have been known to get into. Our group got to talk about a student getting (and maxing out) a credit card, on music and unnecessary clothing.

Move-in day is August 23, starting at 8 a.m. The dean of the music department will be having a rehearsal that evening, so it’s going to be a looooong day for her. I figure we’ll help her get her stuff in the room, then get outta there and let her get started.

We'll need to pull $5000 our of our @$$ to pay for this, but it’s worth it. Without FAR Manor, it would be pocket change, but you’ve heard enough of that tune by now…

Tuesday, July 15, 2008 5 comments

Silly stuff for Tuesday

New Hope ChurchThey named their church after a Star Wars episode! How cool is that?

I’ve been thinking about printing up the following haiku on stickers & putting them on gas pumps:

Here at the gas pump,
I filled my motorcycle.
It cost 10 dollars.

Speaking of which, I had a couple people encroach in my lane this evening, within a minute of each other, ironically on the way to the gas station. First was a mini-van, then a dualie (aka Tiny P***s Compensator). I'm thinking air horns should be my next accessory. I’ve had this happen on a much larger bike and emptier road. It’s amazing how people don’t see the bike, they don’t hear the horn — but somehow or other, they see you hoist your boot off the peg to kick a dent in their door. :-P

There was a minor head-on collision in front of the gas station. One person was turning left to come in, the other turning left to come out, and they both tried to occupy the same space at the same time. Doesn’t work. Nobody hurt, fortunately, and it gave me a little cover to make the turn myself.

Then another minivan pulled off the road in front of me, about 10 miles from home. I stopped and asked him if everything was OK. He pointed at the hood and said, caliente. By the time I got back his way with a gallon of water, his motor must have cooled down… I hope he got where he was going.

Monday, July 14, 2008 6 comments

FAR Future, Episode 42: Holidays and Happiness

I’ve always cringed at “Christmas in July” events, and here I am doing one myself. Life is like that…

Monday, January 5, 2015
Holidays and Happiness

Happy New Year. Or a reasonable facsimile of happy. We managed to enjoy the holidays at FAR Manor, even if Christmas is no longer the commercial orgy it used to be. Even the kids were pretty happy, even though their only gifts were notebooks and sketch pads, with good pens and pencils to go with them. I told them that they weren’t to be used for school, just their own writing and drawing. Me… I got a great gift in email, and I’ll mention that shortly. Serena’s working on a play now, and Rene started a diary. He found out what I’ve been doing online forever and “expressed interest.” He might write an entry here on occasion. Kim and Christina are drawing stuff, both separately and together. It’s really fascinating to watch them work, each on one side of the paper; they switch sides every so often to make their stuff blend together and look like a single artist did the whole thing. I’ve never been able to draw, and it’s always amazing to me how other people can. Mrs. Fetched loves her Christmas present — Beth sent her a copy of her new book, and she’s already hoping the third book will be out soon.

Working backwards: we invited the neighbors for a Thanksgiving potluck again. I think it’s going to be a tradition. We had steaks, fish, chicken, and gobs of fruit and veggies. And bread, of course. The pasta, goat cheese, tomatoes and onions that a lot of us enjoy through the summer made an appearance as well.

Now that rationing is “by the market,” as the junta mouthpieces insist on calling it, people are buying and hoarding again… and catching things on fire again. Think of it as evolution in action… and proof of sorts, too. I’ve always said that people don’t believe in evolution because they haven’t evolved themselves, and they tend to be the ones losing property to hoarding. The anti-hoarding laws passed before the coup are still on the books, but they’re only enforced when someone’s stash burns something down — and usually not then, given that they’ve already punished themselves.

My Christmas present came in email, and I don’t know whom to thank it, but it was “totally awesome, dude.” Like I’d mentioned before, some of the metro-area Pat-riots have been gunning for The Prophet, and one bunch decided they would set him up and get it all on video. They wrapped a $10-spot around a bottle of water with a rubber band, and dropped it and a can of tuna in his box while they taped it. The Prophet has always refused cash donations, you know. So he looked straight at the camera and said, “You brood of vipers, your ancestors thought to entrap The Lord with their clever schemes, but their plans were laid low. So will it be with you. I say unto you: follow me, and see what The Lord is doing.” And he picked up his box and started walking.

You can hear them on the recording, discussing what to do, and one of them says, “Hey, this is why we came. If he wants to make it easy on us, who cares?”

The video jumps to the inside of a MARTA train. The Prophet appears to be praying (“or napping,” one of the 'Riots suggests). It jumps again; The Prophet steps off the train and waits for the 'Riots to catch up. “Decatur,” the cameraman says. As they step off the train, he leaves the station.

Another jump: The Prophet climbs the steps of a boarded-up church. People from the surrounding area are approaching; the 'Riots whisper among themselves about their safety but stand their ground. One guy comes and talks to them, but off-camera (they’re watching The Prophet).

“Hey, are you the guys that were putting videos of his sermons on the net?”

“Uh, yeah,” one says. “Some of them, anyway,” says another.

“Cool. You think you’ll be able to upload your video now? The dorks screwed up Internet pretty good.”

“Um… we’ll manage.”

Their visitor starts to say something else, but The Prophet starts preaching at that point and he shuffles away. The sermon rips the junta in just about every way you can imagine: Pharisees, den of thieves, brood of vipers, you name it. He saves a few choice words for all the churches that have thrown in with the “godly men” in the junta. “We can turn him in on a sedition charge,” one of them whispers. “He’s giving us all the rope we need to hang ’im.”

“If they can find him,” another says. “Seems like every time someone tries to grab him, he’s just not there.”

Somebody shushes them, and The Prophet goes on speaking. Finally he lifts his box over his head and says, “Let those who are in need: come. He who drinks of the Living Water will never thirst, he who eats of the Bread of Life will never hunger. Come to The Lord’s storehouse, see what He has done through His enemies.” He puts the box to the side, and the crowd moves forward, but orderly.

“Like zombies,” one of the 'Riots whispers.

Then The Prophet starts reaching into his box and pulling out grocery bags, one or two for each person. (“Where’d all that shit come from?” one of the 'Riots whispers. “The box was empty when I dropped our stuff in!”) Then he pulls out a huge wad of money and gives it to a woman, who cries and hugs him. She steps off to the side, but still in view of the camera, and pulls out a cellphone.

“I’ve got the mortgage,” she says. Her voice is steady, but you can see her tears. “All of it, I think. $2400? … Cash. Yeah, I’m gonna want receipts, and I want papers, signed! Saying you’ve cancelled the foreclosure because we’re paid up.” Meanwhile, The Prophet is still pulling bag after bag out of his cardboard box.

The camera tilts, dips, shakes, but doesn’t go off target; the 'Riots are swearing and murmuring things like, “I’m not believin’ this,” and “Where’s it all coming from?” Finally, the last person gets his bag and walks away.

The Prophet looks at the camera again, says, “Bear witness to what you have seen today,” and walks around the side of the church, leaving the box on the steps. One of the 'Riots runs over to the box, picks it up, and turns it upside down. Something flutters out, and he stoops to pick it up.

“It’s the ten we wrapped around the bottle,” he says. “I marked it.”

“He’s gone!” another one yells from off-camera. “No way he coulda moved that fast! We gotta catch him!”

“Forget it,” the cameraman says. The camera droops, points at the ground, then cuts off.

I’ve watched it over and over, and showed it to Mrs. Fetched. Moved us both to tears… it still does, to me. She only watched it once, said, “We know whose side He’s on,” and walked away. Not really much more you can say about that. Except: whoever sent the video gave me the best Christmas present this year.


Sunday, July 13, 2008 2 comments

Weekend Cinema

If it’s short, strange, and free, it must be Weekend Cinema!

Now I put a lot of miles on my motorcycle, and I’ve gotten pretty comfortable riding it. But this guy is a lot more comfortable than I’d ever want to get!

Saturday, July 12, 2008 9 comments

Raining Buckets… Literally

As I said in the last post, I rode home in the rain. The bike gave me no trouble, and I gratefully pulled into the garage, got my wet things off, then wiped down the bike (the only cleaning it’s had since I bought it). The rain was on and off until bedtime, at which point it stayed on… in spades. It poured most of the night, with lots of ground lightning really close to home. I was really grateful about not having to ride in that… I’ve done it once before and have no desire to repeat the experience. And I should write about that some time, but not now.

Wednesday rolled around, finally. Mrs. Fetched said there were buckets standing in the open that were brimming over. Her dad's rain gauge had overflowed, so we got more than 6 inches of rain. Lord knows we needed the rain, but catching up all at once? It was still raining on & off, but I’d planned to work at home so I didn’t worry about it.

Thursday morning, more (light) rain. I needed to take some stuff that I’d photographed back to work, so Mrs. Fetched let me take her car… the first time I’d driven to work for about a month. I had to repeat the experience Friday morning, since the motorcycle battery was drained — some moisture must have gotten into the ignition switch or other places where it could do unwelcome things. There was also water in the fuel, which was easily fixed by draining the float bowl.

bikesSo Jimmy, a guy who helps out with the farm stuff from time to time, has been getting tired of gas prices and bought a Lifan motorcycle — it’s basically a Chinese 200cc Honda clone — and got it plated with just a little effort. After we took care of a tree down across the fence, we brought his bike up to my place to check over. His chain was pretty loose, so we tightened it up a bit and lubed it (which it also needed), then he let me take it for a short putt. The rear sprocket on this thing is a lot bigger than it needs to be, even on a 200cc bike — it would pull from zero in 2nd gear without any trouble, and I joked about using it to pull stumps.

We decided to buzz down to the creek to see what needed to be done about the log barricade (to keep the cows from going around the fence). I learned very quickly that my habit of using the front brake so much was a bad one on dirt, but fortunately it was just pucker-inducing rather than surrender-to-gravity. But I rounded a corner in front of the pond and stopped at the gate… and no Jimmy. I was just about to go back to see if he was OK, when I heard him coming. He came around the corner a little faster than I would have thought comfortable, straightened it out, then went down. I ran back to him; he’d mostly landed on his shoulder but was only scuffed a little. The amber bezel on one of his turn signals broke; you can see it in the picture if you look carefully.

We continued down to the creek. The heavy rains had washed out the bank where the logs were, and they’d floated sideways… but they were there. We’d just need to get the tractor to pull them back into place. By the time we got back to the house, Jimmy was starting to feel a bit shocky from his get-off, so he sat it out while my father-in-law and I took care of it.

I guess you don't just dust yourself off and keep riding, like you did as a teenager, when you’re pushing 60. “He’s gonna be sooooooore in the morning.”

Tuesday, July 08, 2008 17 comments

Bike Night

The local bike shop has a “Bike Night” once a month, and they’ve recently added a Vintage Bikes segment: bring in your old bikes, and everybody votes on Best in Show for prizes. They also have a dyno with a horsepower shootout, which is mostly a curiosity when you have a stock DR-Z400 (rated 34 HP) and several bikes there made well over 100 HP.

Honda PassportsThis was one of the vintage bikes, a Honda Passport C70 with… a NOS canister???? Someone has got an even weirder sense of humor than me, and that’s saying a lot!

I came for the free food, primarily, and to see how much a new front tire is going to run me ($120) when I need to replace it, probably next month. But the good thing about these gatherings is getting to meet up with other people who love motorcycles and talk about them. Two other guys came in (together) on bikes like mine, and so we hit it off pretty quick. Turns out they live in Buford, but come up this way often to ride both on & off road. One guy was laughing about my milk crate, and even offered me a tank bag if I’d get rid of it, but it was a magnetic bag and I have a plastic tank… then we all laughed about the 70cc scooter with the NOS canister.

There was a chance of rain, and I’d brought my rain suit… and it turned out to be needed. A few drops were enough to get the staff moving their bikes inside; some of the sporties clustered under the awning provided by the dyno truck and some of the visitors boogied on out. The few drops turned into an impressive downpour, which was kind enough to wash a lot of the grime off my bike, and those of us who waited it out alternatively watched the owner’s video of a Colorado ride or stood under one of the large metal awnings and watched the rain wash our bikes.

The rain finally let up, so I put on my rain suit and headed home. It didn’t take long to find some more rain, although it looked as if I might get a break closer to town… and in fact, it stopped for a couple miles. But after that, it pretty much rained all the way home. My hands and feet were soaked, but the rain suit did its job well and kept the rest of me dry and comfortable.

Monday, July 07, 2008 7 comments

FAR Future, Episode 41: Maximum Disruption

It’s kind of eerie when stuff starts happening that you write about happening in the future…

Ghostburbs (video)

Monday, November 24, 2014
Maximum Disruption

The Beltway pundits have largely been sidelined, due to the tight media controls and spotty electrical service… such is their reward for going along with the coup, or at least not taking a stand against it. Serves them right, IMO; if they hadn’t been tut-tut’ing everything the real government did to try holding things together, maybe it wouldn’t have emboldened the militias. If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that you can’t reason with a conservative, you can’t compromise with them, you can’t negotiate with them. You can only prevent them from harming you or everyone around them. You can only wait for a few of them to fall into the pit they dug and wait to stop digging it even deeper. I’ll admit, a few people — even one or two I remember as GCM’ers — have told me (in private) that ‘I never supported anything like this.’ Good for them for finally waking up… too bad it’s too late to make a difference.

But if the Rumps were looking for maximum disruption, they couldn’t have come up with anything much more effective than the “Latino Repatriation Act” and all the riders that went along with it. With no president to sign or veto bills, anything passed becomes law after 10 days… but nothing gets introduced without the blessing of the junta. The LRA has really made a mess on this part of Planet Georgia. There are a lot of people directly affected by the law here; many of them came to work in the poultry business, and landscaping, and restaurants, and anything nobody else wanted to do. And if they have less than five years of “legal residency,” they have to pack up and find their way back home. Of course, the junta wants them to leave, but doesn’t want to have the expense of sending them away.

The whole “must carry proof of citizenship” BS is a little more than a backdoor version of a national ID card. It’s also an obvious invitation to profiling — you can bet Ms. Lily White will never be asked to show a birth certificate or voter registration card (unless she’s voting). I expect I’ll probably be carded more than once, not exactly being blonde and blue-eyed myself.

School started in October, but we yanked the kids out after a week — the junta has rolled out a “universal curriculum” that’s indoctrination and nothing else. About a third of the teachers, even in this Red neck of the woods, quit over it. Daughter Dearest, who plans to come home after her school year is over, pointed us to some good materials and we’ve started home-schooling. I’m working at home all week now, for however long the company going to last, and we’ve set up school time for the afternoon and early evening. It seems to work well for us: the kids help with the chores and gather deadfall in the morning, do their homework in the afternoon, and we go over lessons in the evening. Guillermo and Maria are more than a little concerned about this repatriation thing, but I’ve talked them into sitting tight for now — I’m kind of counting on my ambiguous relationship with the GCM to shield them, at least temporarily. Besides, if they left, I think Kim and Serena would try to go with them; the kids have turned into some kind of eight-legged composite creature. :-)

Down in Atlanta, The Prophet has been busy with ministry. A lot of people are getting thrown out of their houses, even though nobody else wants them. Between that and some draconian laws about vandalizing foreclosure properties, the banks are ending up with a lot of real estate. Like as not, the junta is forcing counties to “overlook” taxes on the houses, so the bankers aren’t getting hurt. It’s not just Atlanta, either. But The Prophet is almost daring the junta to come after him; he blasts them from his cardboard pulpit and continues to gather food donations. A suburban Pat-riot Club has vowed to take him down, and I’m seriously worried.

The big-box joints have taken a pounding in the last couple of months. Sales, clearance sales, “store closing” sales, then people break into the stores and swipe what little is left. Some homeless people outside of Springfield, IL took up residence in an abandoned Wal-Mart to get out of the cold, and it was nearly a month before anyone realized they were there. Not much in one of those stores that would burn, especially if the merchandise was cleared out, but trash is free for the taking (who can afford trash pickup now?) and they built some walls inside out of scrap materials, for privacy and to trap heat. A lot of people are picking up on the idea, especially since nobody cares too much about those old buildings anymore… and people have to have somewhere to go. Sometimes it’s slot campers rolling inside from the parking lot; others come from the street. Somehow or another, they’re building a new kind of home.

Winters really suck when people can’t stay warm.


Saturday, July 05, 2008 9 comments

Blackberry Harvest

No, not the fancy phone, the kind you eat or make into jelly or pies.

I was kind of surprised at how good they looked this year, given the drought. The cool spring and summer (so far) must have done them some good.

Now for the fun part: jelly, jam, pies…

Friday, July 04, 2008 5 comments

Splat! [UPDATED Jul 6, 9pm]

Daughter Dearest (with our blessing) invited her friend Sasquatch and his family over for a 4th of July cookout. Three of us, three of them… six people? No problem. Them Mrs. Fetched invited her parents (eight). The Boy and P.O.D. (Snippet has to work this afternoon, so that’s ten). Not enough? Not for Mrs. Fetched — she invited another family over… fourteen total. (Somehow, I had thought there were 17, but 14 is plenty.) Ummm… we need groceries. Off to the supermarket.

Eventually, we got to the dairy section in the far back corner of the store, and Daughter Dearest said to me, “Look at this fly.” It was a rather large housefly, walking around on the glass in front of the name-brand milk. Next thing I know, she’d removed one of her flip-flops: “Should I whack it?”

“Sure, squish that sucker!” I said.

WHAP echoed all over the back corner of the store. I was surprised an employee didn’t come over there to investigate; it was fairly loud.

Daughter Dearest quickly walked away from the scene of the crime, and then turned to look and started giggling. “It’s smashed on the glass!”

I had a look… sure enough, this big fly was now part of the display. I would have gotten a picture, but A bunch of people suddenly showed up, completely oblivious to the fly, and I didn’t want to call their attention to it. But DD and I laughed and wise-cracked about it {“It was this big,” DD said, making a dime-sized circle with her finger & thumb. “Yeah, but now it’s this big!” I said, making a two-inch circle with my fingers} until we got to the checkout line, with Mrs. Fetched clucking and eye-rolling in counterpoint. On the way out, she swung by the service desk and told them about the fly, omitting our complicity in the situation.

It’s not like people are buying milk anyway, at $4.50 $5.89 a gallon.

[UPDATE: We swung over that way this afternoon for a couple of errands. The fly is still there, and I got a picture. I guess Mrs. Fetched’s message didn’t get passed along.]

Wednesday, July 02, 2008 5 comments

You Go, Girl. To Some Other School.

Lovely… and it’s the school I graduated from.

This is a story that sucks on several levels.

Lordy, but I was glad to get out of high school. I blew that town and didn’t go back for a long time. When I did, I took Mrs. Fetched to the Farm House, a restaurant I worked at for a while. I told the waitress I wanted to say hello to the owner, and she got a funny look and said, “Oh… he moved to Grand Rapids with his daughter. And nobody knew he had a daughter.” oooooops

Tuesday, July 01, 2008 6 comments


July came in like early April. 55°F this morning and very low humidity, something quite unusual for Planet Georgia in July. Usually, this time of year, people are considering turning on the car A/C during the morning commute. DD’s pal from Norway would have approved.

A more reliable indicator that summer has arrived: The Boy moved out a couple weeks ago. A few weeks ago, he showed us the place he and his friends were looking at: a double-wide with rotting siding (not well-hidden under fresh paint) and a missing central A/C unit. The place was locked, so I can only imagine what the roof & floors were like. So they ended up renting a trailer from Mrs. Fetched’s mom… they agreed to a bunch of stipulations about alcohol and parties (none), although I’m sure they’ll have some booze hidden away somewhere. Snippet is there (of course), along with one of the other band members and his cousin P.O.D.

Speaking of P.O.D., his commute to Canton is eating him alive — why he can’t find an apartment closer to work is beyond me, but he’s Big V’s son and I’ve long given up on trying to untangle what passes for logic on that side of the family. So he started nosing around to see if I’d “loan” him my Civic (which I bought from him so he could get a truck), but it picked this last week for the speedometer sensor to start acting up. Not thinking he’d take me up on it, I offered to loan him the Virago and he jumped on it. I didn’t think a crotch rocket pilot, even a former one (he sold it after a large speeding ticket some time back), would be interested in a large cruiser. But he figured he could save $30/week in gas alone, so maybe it’s not a big surprise.

I let him borrow it over the weekend to get acquainted with it, and he brought it back complaining of it missing and acting weird. I wasn’t in any shape on Sunday to deal with it, but I checked it out last night and it acted just like it had once before, a couple of years ago, and hadn’t done since. Using the strategy, “check the cheap stuff first,” we (P.O.D. helped) quickly stunk up the garage with spilled gasoline and found that the fuel filter was beyond dirty. Mrs. Fetched picked up a new one today while I was at work, and I got it in tonight. I haven’t refilled the gas tank yet, but I’m pretty sure that will fix the problem. I figure he’ll pick it up while I’m at work tomorrow.

The blackberries are already getting ripe — and I’ll definitely be out picking this weekend when it’s not raining. There’s a new stand, where the timber people cleared an ingress point, that looks nearly as big as the one in the pasture I raided last year. There’s a smaller stand in the front yard, and that’s getting picked first because I won’t have to walk as far. :-) I’d like to get 3 gallons total, which would keep us in jelly for a while. If The Boy and Snippet aren’t too lazy to do a little picking, they could get some free food.

In any case, I’m looking forward to a three-day weekend.


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