Looking for writing-related posts? Check out my new writing blog, www.larrykollar.com!

Friday, February 27, 2009 9 comments

Weekend Cinema (political edition)

OK, so most of the country tuned into Obama’s “not-State of the Union” address Tuesday night, and some of us stuck around for LA Gov. Bobby Jindal delivering the goplets’ rebuttal afterwards. Mrs. Fetched was busy helping Cousin Splat get some of the business end of the lawn care business dealt with, so I caught the speech on my laptop. After a few minutes, I got tired of hearing my fans winding up, so I switched to an audio-only feed — this was good, because I had to get in the car and could continue listening on NPR without missing much.

President Obama delivered a pretty good address, of course. Even though he had a few zingers aimed at the goplets, he also had them joining the applause and had a few quips aimed at loosening them up, and from what I could tell from the audio they worked pretty well. One could almost feel sorry for Gov. Piyush “Bobby” Jindal, having to follow that act — and indeed, he was working under several handicaps:

1) He’s not Barack Obama.
2) He didn’t have an audience to interact with.
3) He’s a conservative, trying to make a case for the same Epic Fail policies that got us to this point.

Indeed, Jindal’s response was widely panned, by both the Left and the Right. I personally got the impression that he was reading a bedtime story; all it needed was an appearance by the Wingnut Fairy to wave a wand and make everything right… or Right. The happy peons go home to their hovels from a 16-hour workday, the Owners live happily ever after, etc. He lost me the second he started talking about compassion as some kind of conservative value — I bet he’d pretend he never heard about Gretna barricading the road out of New Orleans after Katrina.

But I digress. This is Weekend Cinema, and that means a short (and free) video, right? Tonight’s selection is actually a news report, based around Gov. Jindal’s comments made over an open mike shortly before he delivered his response. It at least explains the “bedtime story” delivery:

It accidentally highlights the stereotype of Indians talking really fast (an example of which appears in the above clip). But you’d think someone who is a governor, one considered a “rising star” in his party, would have started working with with a speech coach a long time ago. Another stereotype: southerners tend to talk slow, and are automatically suspicious of fast talkers… that hasn’t seemed to hurt him. I know I talk fast when I’m nervous… but one would think a former congresscritter and current governor would have long ago shed any public-speaking nerves.

But look. If his name’s really Piyush, why call himself “Bobby” of all things? The freeking president has a funny name, and he doesn’t call himself “Barry”; you’d think that would no longer be a handicap. Oh well. Give the conservatives 20 years or so to catch up with reality…

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 9 comments

Spring #5

The forecast low was 32 last night, but I don’t think it ever got down that far. It’s 39 now, according to two nearby weather stations — Weather Underground’s WunderMap is one cool piece of work — and we’ll stay above freezing the rest of the week.

I woke up a little early this morning, which is good. The last two mornings, Brand X has called needing a ride to school — Jam has some kind of intestinal bogey and has been blowing her groceries — and since I was still in bed, I didn’t have time to make coffee before jumping in the car. That’s brutal… starting early without coffee. Not an issue this morning, thankyouverymuch. It was also good because the fire was down to a few coals. Mrs. Fetched had brought in some small sticks last night, perhaps anticipating this might happen, so I had it quickly rebuilt.

Unfortunately, we’re out of cat food, so the cats will be having a bad day for a while.

Monday, February 23, 2009 10 comments

FAR Future, Episode 74: The Opt-Outs

This one’s a little long, but next week’s is a little short. It evens out.

Tuesday, July 4, 2023
The Opt-Outs

July 4 really meant something this year: for the first time in 9 years, we actually have some freedom to celebrate. There are still plenty of junta-symps around Planet Georgia, of course, and the Great Backlash against the churches isn’t exactly helping with that — but even the symps were in a festive mood this year. The President kicked off the celebrations on Saturday, and they ran pretty much through today. We spent the weekend in town again, and they had the fireworks (huge!) last night so everyone could be home before dark today. Of course, they had another “recognize the vets” moment. Rene said, “This whole war-hero thing is kind of embarrassing. Major Shevchuk and Manny Velasquez are the real heroes… they walked out and faced down the tanks while me and Sammy hid up over the dunes with RPGs.”

“You’re what we’ve got,” I reminded him. “Besides, when the shooting started, it was you and Sammy drawing the fire. It’s your day as much as theirs. Besides, didn’t Manny go to RoT?” The funny thing was, his fling-girl and the two brothers who accosted him at the chautauqua were there and cheering for him as loud as for any of the others. I guess it goes to show… well, I’m not sure what it goes to show. Maybe celebrity conquers all?

Kim and Christina set up a table where they sold a few drawings. They made more money doing portraits… I think some people paid just to watch them go at it, side-by-side, switching sides and filling in each other’s parts and blending it into a consistent whole. People were taking pictures and video, and some of them were media stringers. One video taker had release forms and even interviewed them. I had to remind myself how fascinating it was to me when I watched them work like that when they were kids. But I still thought it was funny, how the interviewer was a little taken aback when she learned that Christina the artist is also (at age 19) closing in on a Ph.D. in biochemistry. At least they don’t use their old Spanglish argot anymore (except for “Holá, y’all”); they got out of that habit after they got drafted (or signed up, in Rene’s case).

People are on the move this summer — lots of young people are taking that first summer after high school to see a little of the country before settling into college or work, as well as some older folks with no family ties or any other reason to stay put. Not many my age though… but there’s a few. I don’t see much traffic at the bicycle stop now that Luke opened up his place down at the crossroads; most people just keep rolling by and refill their water bottles there. But there are some who skip Luke’s and come up here.

We came home from town this morning; I went down to check the water jug and it was dry. When I brought it back, I saw a ratty-looking bike lying in a patch of weeds toward the road and smelled the tobacco… you don’t see many people smoking nowadays, especially travelers (who need all the wind they can get). The guy associated with the bike and smoke, nearly hidden in the shadows of the pergola, looked even rattier than the bike. He started up, and I waved him back and set the water jug next to him.

“I put this rest stop up for everyone,” I said. “Most people go on down to Luke’s now, but I know people still use it — the water jug gets emptied out.”

He nodded, took one more drag on his hand-rolled cigarette, then gently stubbed it out and pinched the end. I realized he was a lot younger than I thought at first — not much older than Kim, if that. He had aged before his time.

“Yeah,” he said finally, fishing an old pill bottle out of a pocket. He twisted the cap off, made sure the end of his cig was cold, then dropped it in and closed it up before pocketing it again. “We appreciate it.” He glanced toward the corner; I followed his cue and saw markings scratched on the post:


“What are those?”

“It means this is a safe place to rest a while.”

“Oh… like hobo symbols? From the Depression?”

“There’s a depression goin’ on now, ’case you haven’t noticed.” He shook his head. “No… sorry. I shouldn’t take it out on you. You try to help out, anyway. We know who’s good people.”

“Who’s ‘we’?”

He pulled his cap off and scratched his head for a moment. It looked like he cut his own hair, as short as possible… and suddenly remembered I’d seen several people like him at the festivities over the weekend, always around the edges of the crowd. “I guess you’d call us opt-outs. We didn’t want to live under the junta, so we opted out. Then there’s the junta-symps who don’t want to reconcile. Hard life, but it’s a free life.”

“The junta’s gone now.”

“Yeah. But it ain’t that easy. Once you’ve opted out, it’s hard to come back. You got no idea how hard it can be to come back.”

“I’ve tried to help people get started back when,” I told him. “I think I have a pretty good idea how hard it could be.” I was thinking of one of The Boy’s old girlfriends… what did I call her? (Ms. Almost Einstein, but I had to go back and look it up.) She lived with us for a bit over a year back before stuff went pear-shaped, and I figured it would take a minimum of $7000 (in 2006 dollars) to get her on her own two feet: about half of that for a decent car, deposits on apartment and utilities, gadgetry and clothing, and basic living expenses until the paycheck started kicking in. Not too many people drive cars nowadays, outside of special occasions, but you still need a good head start to get started.

“Betcha haven’t been there yourself though.” He fished the pill bottle out of his pocket and started playing with it. Probably needed more smoke.

“You’re right,” I said, “but I think I at least understand it. Here, let’s sit outside where you can smoke.”

He nodded and we carried the stools out. He lit up as quickly as he could without looking desperate. “We pretty much keep movin’, that way nobody gets tired of us bein’ around,” he said. A lot of guys go north for the summer, south for the winter. Me, I’m goin’ northwest then west this year. I figure to spend the winter out in San Diego, if I get that far. Oregon if not.”

“How do you eat?”

“However we can. One reason I’m goin’ west this year, I can forage. Stuff will be picked over pretty good if I took I-95 or US-1 up the coast, or the Nashville-Indy-Chicago route up I-65. Where foraging doesn’t work, I’ll try to get a job on a farm somewhere. If nobody wants to let me work for my food, I’ll steal it.”

I chewed on that for a minute. “I’d rather get a little work out of you than let you steal out of my garden,” I laughed. “Not that I think you’d steal here.”

“Not here,” he agreed. “Junta-symps might do it, but most of us won’t take from someone who gives us water and shelter. The junta-symps, maybe. Not the rest of us though.”

He took one last drag on his cig, then put out the last half-inch and dropped it back in the pillbox. “We get outta the habit of talkin’ to anyone still in — in the system, I mean. Guess I’d better be goin’.”

“Take care of yourself, okay?”

“Yeah. I try. You do the same.” He wheeled his bike to the pavement and rolled on down the hill without looking back.


Sunday, February 22, 2009 4 comments

Scope Creep, and Other Incidentals of Weekend Life

Yesterday morning, Mrs. Fetched asks me oh-so-innocently: “Would you like to come with me? I just have to give the cows one bale of hay and talk to one of the guys.” As long as I’ve been married, I fall for this line every time. We’re not even out of the driveway before her phone rings… it’s Jimmy down at the chicken houses.

In the high-tech world, this is so common they have a phrase for it: scope creep. A project is humming along, on time and on budget, when someone goes, “Hey, can you make it do X?” and a manager says, “I was talking to a customer, and they’ll commit to 100,000 units if it will do Y.” Next thing you know, just like with anything that starts with “all we have to do is” at FAR Manor, you’ve added A and E and working on B, C and W, and R and B, and me and the chimpanzee agree… but I digress. This one was unique in that we actually dropped one of the original parts; it was warm enough that the cows didn’t need more hay.

So the next three hours were spent tightening down louver vents, fixing a broken roof corner, incidentally finding (by smell) and tightening a leaky gas regulator. We broke for lunch and Mrs. Fetched unloaded me, seeming to recognize that there were things I wanted to get done today (as well as things she wanted me to do and couldn’t have me do them otherwise). Besides, somewhere in the morning festoovities, I came up with some lower back pain. I’m not sure where it came from — I wasn’t doing any heavy lifting except to haul the occasional armload of wood into the living room — but it (or more likely, the other chore which I will mention shortly) was enough to release me.

The primary thing I wanted to get done this weekend was to have a look at the garden spot out back and decide how I wanted to set it up. The only compass in the house that I could find was one on the end of a survival knife, and it’s a Tates compass (as in, “he who has a Tates is lost”), but I got it to mostly behave and used the afternoon sun to get a rough confirmation of directions. By 4 p.m., I had a pretty good idea of where afternoon shade would fall and thus a fair idea of what should go where. The spot is like twice as large as I want to deal with, which is good because I can use half of it at a time and swap sides every couple of years. I need to run pipe from the kitchen drain down to it for irrigation (it’s all downhill, which is helpful) and bang up some kind of tool shed. After that, it’s one part water, two parts sunshine, three parts prayer.

Having a good visual on what ground is to be broken next month, I went on to the task at hand: re-attaching a fallen duct under the old place. The renters probably figured it out the way we did when we lived there… felt cold air coming out of the vent. Mrs. Fetched, ever helpful in these matters, made sure there was a roll of Gorilla Tape out where I could find it. I gathered up a trouble light and two extension cords. The fun part is that there’s 2–3 feet of clearance under there, and breathing through your mouth is a fine way to invite fiberglass and whatever else to come visit. I only lost the light once, when the cord tangled up, but got that fixed and managed to crawl over pipes and wires and under support trusses to get to the problem spot. Judging from the packaging tape still stuck to the duct, I’d been here before. 10 minutes to prepare, 10 to crawl in, 10 to fix it, 10 to crawl out (chasing out the renters’ stupidog that wanted to see what was going on), 10 to make sure the cover was on good & tight. Then 20 minutes for a shower.

Last Sunday of the month means potluck day at church. Mrs. Fetched fixed lasagna, presumably using up the rest of the kotijuusto. She and DoubleRed want me to make another batch so they can tackle a cheesecake. OK…

Thursday, February 19, 2009 15 comments

We can has Fire! and Battery!

Working at home is always useful.

About 4:30, I grabbed the w0rNg battery and took it back to the motorcycle shop, and got a new one. Ironically, the smaller battery cost more — WTF? But now I have it and I’ll be ready to ride as soon as it warms up again.

After returning from the shop, I ran a chain down the chimney and it was clear all the way down. I should have known that by the way the sheet I put in front of the fireplace was getting sucked into the chamber. I brushed off some more of the accumulated crud above the damper, shoved the insert back into place, and Mrs. Fetched let 'er rip. Just in time: Winter #5 is upon us, after a rather ugly line of storms yesterday evening. The insert is burning better now than it has in a long time, nice and clean, and it’s warming up nicely in the living room.

Maybe the storms carried the Vortex of Suck™ away with them.

[Holy moly… post #900!]

Wednesday, February 18, 2009 6 comments

Random thoughts

I haven’t just brain-dumped for a while… probably because I dump things on Twitter instead. It’s long past time.

One of the things that turned out pretty well this past weekend: I made kotijuusto (Finnish for “home cheese”). I got the idea from my bob-sister Faboo Mama, who settled on making kotijuusto after a fruitless search for rennet. It’s a simple recipe, but it makes a lot of cheese. It has a consistency much like ricotta, which gave both Mrs. Fetched and DoubleRed the idea of making lasagna with it… which turned out pretty good (and it’s good and gone!), but there’s plenty of cheese left. DoubleRed just cooked some into her scrambled eggs and gave me a taste… dang good. We’ll have to use that stuff up soon, and hey I can always make more. Here’s the recipe I got from Faboo:

3 eggs
5 c buttermilk
1 gallon + 1-1/2 c milk

Whip eggs and buttermilk until fluffy. Bring the milk to a boil, add the egg mixture, and beat well. Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool slowly. (Liquid will form on top, and the cheese will settle on the bottom.) mostly… some of it floats

Line a strainer or mold with cheesecloth. Remove the cheese with a slotted spoon and put it into the strainer, sprinkling a little salt between layers. Cover with a plate as a weight, and refrigerate for 12 hours. put a bowl underneath, you’ll catch at least a cup of whey Turn out into a serving dish. Serves 4-6.

Monday, I spent the morning at the office then went to the doc and got a shot for the poison oak I contracted 10 days ago. The shot works quickly… a little pain for much gain. While I’ve decided I’m through giving 300% to the company for crappy raises (or no raises) and no promotion, I’m still pounding away at a to-do list and I’ll be working at home tomorrow taking a few pictures for a rough-out of the new wall-mount template. A word of advice: if you ever consider technical writing as a career, hit yourself in the head with a hammer until you think of something else.

The choir director settled on the Easter cantata this year: something we did… oh, 6 or 8 or 10 years ago with a few modifications. Someone said, "10 years isn’t that long ago." I pointed out: "10 years ago, my kids were 11 and 9 years old!” And I didn’t have a blog… then again, there was no soap opera to write about back then, just Chicken House Hell.

Snippet tried calling The Boy like two days after we bailed him out. Fortunately, he was smart enough to refuse the call. Like I said, he only did what all of us would like to have done, with much less provocation. If there wasn’t a potential kid involved, I’d dance for joy if the judge made the “no contact” injunction permanent. I might dance anyway.

Republicans are such hypocrites. I mean, how does a conservative these days manage to get through a week without drinking Drano or something? “The economy? Um… Oh! look! a fag in a wedding dress! Vote for us, quick!” Yes, having no imagination is almost required for a conservative, but c'mon. I could make six Republicans with a 7404 chip, a toggle switch, and some LEDs. (I told that to a right-wing engineer back in the Clinton years… he didn’t want to laugh, but he knew it was funny. And true.)

Mrs. Fetched is down in Decatur, visiting Big V at the hospital. Big V’s husband came home from his truck-driving job last night & she took him and her mom down to see her. She’ll be home late tonight, if at all. Big V got her foot put back together yesterday; she has a long recovery ahead of her and it remains to be seen if she’s willing to do her part.

Daughter Dearest wants to go to Florida for spring break. Good idea, sez I, except for the (lack of) money part. I’m thinking about going with her, but making a pact to leave the laptops at home and trying to discover (perhaps with some help from Mom and Solar-bro) some of the local attractions. It might be interesting. I know the original Hooter’s is around there, and DD has one of the more tasteful Hooter’s shirts, so we could hit that, the beach, a bird sanctuary, the beach, a park or two, the beach… you get the idea. I could cheat with my iPhone, of course, and post stuff to Twitter and TwitPic if nothing else.

DoubleRed just got a fling dot com popup, so she’s installing Spybot. And this is why I don’t like Dozeboxes in my house.

W00T! Mrs. Fetched just got home. Big V might get transferred to the long-term facility on Friday if her foot doesn’t get re-infected.

Monday, February 16, 2009 3 comments

FAR Future, Episode 73: Serena’s Chautauqua Story

Monday, June 5, 2023
Serena’s Chautauqua Story

Here’s Serena’s chautauqua story. It’s partly about me, but I just blew her cover is all.

Hola, y'all. (I got out of the habit of saying that when I was in the service, but now that I'm home it's coming back to me.) I know Rene liked to say it a lot, and still does.

We all got home just in time to miss spring planting, aren't we lucky! I was kind of surprised that Kim and Christina made a point of spending their days with everyone else instead of each other — those two will still be going at it when they're old and decrepit like Dad (gotcha!). [Watch it kid, I’ll whack you with my walker as soon as I remember where it is. —FARf] But they fall asleep on the couch in the living room a lot, so I bet they don't get much sleep at night. It's good to have everyone home again; I missed helping Mom and Maria with the cooking, and all the other stuff. But it's different now; we're adults, done with school and all that. I guess Christina's going to be teaching at some college or another by next year, and they'll be gone. So will I. I'm not sure about Rene yet.

Anyway, we had a pretty good time at the chautauqua last week, even if Rene hooked up with an ignorama for a couple of days. I'm glad they started the chautauquas, it's a lot easier to bring culture to the people than it is to bring people to the culture nowadays. They did different things on different nights. Dad liked the drum&brass performance; he said it reminded him of the electronic stuff from when he was younger. I could tell he liked it, the way he was bobbing and twitching to the beat. There's a lot of beat in that stuff, and not much else. Give me a good marching band any day. But it was amazing how the two drummers would switch back and forth, one played while the other one rested. I never realized drumming could be so physically demanding.

I volunteered to help with security for the week, and it came in handy with Rene on Wednesday. It figures, the only time I was really needed all week and it was my own family! The sheriff was happy to have a volunteer with some MP experience, and even deputized me for the week. But I walking by the stage Thursday evening and overheard some of the troupe talking:

“Paula can't finish a line without coughing her lungs out.”

“What do we do then? Nobody else can play Susanne.”

“Well, we can't just cancel. We have a commitment.”

Curiosity got the better of me. “What's wrong?”

They looked me over, with the orange SECURITY vest and the Army patrol hat I like to wear when I'm out. “Our leading lady's sick. She can't perform.”

“That’s too bad. What were you presenting?”

The Discomfiture of Lord Riot. We figured people would like it.”

“Oh. Um… I know that play. I did Susanne a couple of times. I'd be glad to step in.”

The guy they had playing Kip ran through a few random lines with me, and was satisfied with my delivery. “There's not going to be a problem with you doing the play and working security?”

“I'll let the sheriff know. I'll be able to see better from the stage anyway. I can probably bust a troublemaker without dropping a line.”

They laughed, and we shook on it. I went to let the sheriff know I would be sort of undercover for the play, then came back, scanned the lines just to make sure I hadn't forgotten anything, and got dressed. Paula's costume was a bit big on me, but we got it to hang all right and the show went on. I saw the family down in the crowd, grinning like a bunch of clowns.

So of course Dad and Mom came by after the play, and of course Dad had to open his mouth.

“She's your daughter?” the guy who'd played Riot asked. “She really did a great job.”

“She should have,” he said. “She wrote the play.”

“Dad!” I yelled.

“What? You didn't tell them?”

“Wait…” the guy who’d played Ronald said. “You… you're Serena Broward?”

Dad about fell down laughing, and Mom just looked at me. “I can't believe you weren't going to tell them,” she said.

The hubbub grew until Paula came out of the trailer. “What's going on?”

“Your sub,” the guy who played Farfet said. “She's Serena Broward!”

“Serena?!” she squealed like a fangirl, then started coughing and fell back inside.

How the word spread, I have no idea, but the entire troupe was suddenly out there mobbing us. I got Dad back, telling them how he'd played both Farfet and Riot in the very first production, and then the actors were all over him wanting details and critiques.

One thing led to another, and they offered me a job with the chautauqua writing new material in between acting or directing (everyone takes turns). I'm shocked; I never knew that my plays Dad uploaded to the samizdat were spread all over the place and performed so much. I figured a few people put them on, but to hear these guys talk I'm some kind of cult figure to the New Chautauqua movement.

I'm thinking about it. Dad said I should do it, and if I didn't like it I could always come back home.

She ended up taking the job and I’m happy for her. She’s always loved writing plays and putting on the Thanksgiving productions. I told the troupe about those, and they offered to come this year and do a play for us. That would be nice — we didn’t have them the last couple of years, since Serena was in Germany and nobody else took the initiative. I had to tell them about The Dialogues, in which two people (i.e. Serena and I) would do the stage equivalent of flash fiction serials, and they wanted us to tell them all about that too.

So I guess our growed-up foster daughter is about to leave the nest, not too long after coming back. That’s life.


Friday, February 13, 2009 21 comments

This Week [UPDATED]

This was our week:

train wreck

Things began their spiral into the Official FAR Manor Vortex of Suck™ Sunday morning, although (as usual with such things) it seemed like a minor incident at the time. I’d charged the battery on Little Zook Friday night and Saturday morning, and it fired up fairly quickly that afternoon. I ran my errands and parked the bike, figuring I was set for the ride to work Monday and Tuesday mornings. (Wednesday and Friday had rain in the forecast, and I work at home on Thursdays.) Since nobody else was ready for church Sunday morning, I jumped on the bike and hit the starter… and got the zzzzzzz noise that indicates a weak battery. As I’d been using it only a day ago, that’s a pretty obvious clue that the battery needs replacement.

After church, the Evil Twins’ family came to visit and to help cut up a tree that had gone down by the pond. I had completely forgotten about them coming, and they were making noises about having to leave in a few hours, so Mrs. Fetched offered to pick up the battery for me while I was whacking at the tree.

The Vortex began accelerating: a vine growing up the side of the tree turned out to be poison oak; I figured it was February so it would be mostly dormant, and (after cutting into some of it with the chainsaw) I peeled it off and threw it in the brush pile. Meanwhile, Mrs. Fetched had neglected to get her purse out of the truck… and used that as an excuse to not get the battery. (Had this been important to her, she would have found a way to retrieve her purse.) We cut wood until the chain got dull, loaded up all but the biggest pieces, and got it up to the house. The Twins decided that the event they were attending was not that important, so they ended up staying through supper.

Monday dawned; I headed to work. Mrs. Fetched said she was going to get the battery before the chicken catchers showed up late in the evening, but when I came home… of course, it hadn’t happened. Her excuse: she spilled her purse in the truck, and the check she was going to cash slid under the seat and she didn’t find it until much later. That’s so lame it’s probably true… but her dad had earlier offered to loan us the money to get the battery. Once again, if it was important to her, she would have gotten it done. The chicken catchers came for the birds that night; I just got well-acquainted with Mr. Bacardi.

Tuesday afternoon, I noticed the first poison oak blisters on my arms, which did nothing to improve my outlook. Even more annoying was the phone ringing every few minutes that evening, just after I started thinking about going to bed. Everything finally settled down, and we went to bed…

…and the phone rang at 3 a.m. Mrs. Fetched grabbed it on the first ring, before she was even awake, and answered, "mm haaaooo?" To make a long story not quite so long, Snippet had another one of her psychotic episodes, ostensibly because The Boy was in another room with a friend for a drink and light conversation. After she whacked him across the head with a Guitar Hero controller, he tried to wrap her up until she calmed down. Didn’t work, and after she started drawing blood… he hit back. The upshot is, Snippet plays the innocent little girl card extremely well (the only people who like her don’t know her), and The Boy was the one who got busted. It took pretty much all day Wednesday to get him bailed out… which we did because we know Snippet and how she operates, and The Boy only did what most of us want to do without nearly as much provocation. But here’s the upside: They’re enjoined from having any contact with each other until their court date in May. We’re hoping he’ll lose interest in her before then and get on with his life.

There’s one little complication, though… yeah. That Complication. The Boy wants to do the right thing, but Snippet (and her mom) are making it just as difficult as possible… threatening to take the kid and disappear. Nice people, huh? I give it a pretty fair chance that it’s not The Boy’s kid, and the doctors gave as high as 50/50 odds of a miscarriage.

Next to that, the poison oak from my hands to elbows is a minor annoyance. I’ve got an appointment with the doctor on Monday if it doesn’t start drying up.

Thursday evening, we got a broadcast email at work: “Blah blah, great quarter, blah blah, anticipating problems, blah blah, we’re canceling merit increases this year.” The sub-text: the economy’s crappy, what’cha gonna do about it? Suckaaazzz…

And now: the high point of the week. I saw a bumper sticker that said, “When life gives you lemons, get a bottle of tequila.” Excellent advice. I suppose it was too quiet around here lately anyway.

Monday, February 09, 2009 5 comments

FAR Future, Episode 72: Adventures at the Chautauqua

Things are weird now. In a much weirder FAR Future, I wouldn’t expect that to be different.

Sunday, June 4, 2023
Adventures at the Chautauqua

Sunday, June 4, 2023

The chautauqua was in town last week. It’s a great idea, one they revived from the 19th century but without the Sunday school part (churches are somewhat out of favor these days, except in this region and a few scattered outposts). The local one is based in Gainesville, and they travel around northeast Georgia from late spring through late fall. So we got our screen tents together, loaded up the wagon, and made a week of it since the town was letting people camp in the park.

Rene got a little more than he bargained for, but I’ll let him tell the story…

Holá, y'all. Monday afternoon after the chautauqua troupe set up their portable stage, but before they started the performances, they asked all the former service people to come up on stage to be recognized. There were a bunch of people besides Serena, Kim, and me, and most all of us felt the same way about it — we'd had our fill of military life, but even after you're out you still have to do your duty, right? Their little band played the national anthem, everyone cheered, wave the flag, USA, USA. I guess I should be less cynical since they offered my family a lot in return for a couple years of my life (and I got out early anyway), but you could also say that the junta shouldn't have given us so much grief in the first place.

The good part, at least for me, was getting noticed by all the girls. They noticed Kim too, but he still only has eyes for Christina, and she can be a little territorial anyway. One of the girls hung onto me, it was kind of flattering and I'm not used to that. Half of my life, the only girl I knew who was my age was Serena, and she's been my best friend instead of anything romantic. I never had time to meet anyone in the army — boot camp, EDID training, deployment, then the war heated up just as I got a little leave… they say the truth is the first casualty of war, but my love life was the second, jejeje. So I palled around with Amber for the next couple of days. Farf-Mom didn’t look too happy about it; she said that Amber’s family has a long history of being troublemakers in the county. Papa just gave me The Look — the one that says, “This won't end well.” Of course, Christina might say that hormones speak louder than parents (and I would say she should know!).

Things were cool until Wednesday night. That's when the troupe's band started playing some mariachi music, and Mama and Papa got up to dance. I was about to point them out, but she was shaking her head. “Bad enough the damn wetbacks live here,” she said. “I don't see why they have to encourage them.”

I was stunned, and she was on a roll. “Stupidest thing the junta did was to let 'em stay —”

“Hey,” I said. “Those are my parents! And I'm one of those 'damn wetbacks' who took the army's bargain, if you hadn't figured it out. Does 'Cardenas' sound like a gringo name to you?”

“I'm sorry — I — but you —”

“Save it,” I told her. “I don't think I want to see you anymore,” and walked off.

Of course, she went crying to her family, and a couple “representatives” came by our tent shortly after supper. “Who's the beaner that's been messing with our sister?” Bubba One demanded.

I was still mad about the whole thing, especially not listening to Farf-Mom. I stood up and faced 'em — two big lugs, slow and not too bright looking. “That's Señor Beaner to you, Billy Bob,” I said. “And I never asked her to hang all over me, by the way.”

They swelled up at that, but next thing I knew Kim was on my right, Papa on my left, Farf-Dad had my back, and Serena walked up behind them. She’d volunteered to work security for the week, and just happened to be on duty. I know that she learned some tae kwan do when she was little, and got a refresher course with her MP training, so I don’t doubt she could have taken them both herself if it came to that.

“What seems to be the problem here?” she said. They turned and sized her up in her security blazer — she nodded at them like they were dropping by for a friendly chat, but at the same time you knew she wouldn't take any crap off them. The MPs in Dooby were like that — it didn't matter what your rank was, or how big you were; if they had to take you in, it was going to happen. Respectful and authoritative at the same time.

“Ain't no problem,” Bubba One said. “We just came to tell this —”

“Good,” she interrupted. “Because I'd hate to see you guys get hurt. This guy took on three Iranian tanks in Saudi Arabia; I don't think he'd have much trouble with two rednecks.”

I opened my mouth to say something like “Your move, bubba,” but Serena gave me one of those looks and I kept quiet. She does that authority thing pretty well, did I mention that?

“Stay away from Amber, y'hear?” said Bubba Two, already moving off.

No problemo, niños,” I said. Bubba One paused, but Bubba Two nudged him and they kept moving. Serena shook her head at me and went back to her rounds, and she had a few words for me when she finished up for the night. She took her volunteer job seriously.

After she finished lecturing me, she, Kim, and I set night watches for the rest of the week in case they wanted to try to surprise us, but we didn’t see any of them (especially Amber, gracias a Dios) for the rest of the week. I think they just cleared out. Farf-Dad took the motorcycle back to the manor to make sure they hadn’t tried anything at home, but either they don’t know where we live or they wised up.

Such is life on Planet Georgia. I hope Rene doesn’t have to re-up just to find a girlfriend.


Saturday, February 07, 2009 8 comments

Meow? and Odd Jobs

big cat printA week or so ago, one of Big V’s horses got mauled and killed behind her place. We contacted the DNR people at the state park, who said, “there aren’t any big cats in this area. It must have been something else.” Um… claw marks on the horse’s neck (the photo we got is rather graphic, and would have been beating a… never mind) say different. As does the four-inch paw print one of the people helping with the lawn-care business found this morning — on the manor grounds no less. We went out and got a few pictures. Denial ain’t a river in Egypt.


If I’d thought it through, I would have painted the bottom of the cold frame last week — then I could have dropped it where it's going to go and painted the top. Oh well. I need to run to Home Despot to find some spinach (and maybe lettuce seed), plus a grocery run for some other stuff, so I can let the last of the paint dry while I'm gone. I’m thinking about taking Little Zook… it needs a warm-up run because it looks like I’ll be able to ride to work at least Monday and Tuesday.

It’s nice to have the sun making things warmer for a change.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009 9 comments

Prediction followup: Score One for FARf!

On New Year’s Eve, I posted my Predications for 2009. Looks like I got one of them partially right anyway: Congress just voted to postpone the digital TV cutover.

The automakers have two more months to admit they’re failing. I hope I’m wrong about that one.

Monday, February 02, 2009 4 comments

FAR Future, Episode 71: When Johnny (and Kim, Serena, and Rene) Come Marching Home

Just because it’s Groundhog Day doesn’t mean I’ll be posting the same thing every day from now on…

Sunday, April 30, 2023
When Johnny (and Kim, Serena, and Rene) Come Marching Home

There’s some major downsizing going on with the military now that the Reunification is over. Kim and Serena were due to be cut loose anyway, but Rene got out a year early. Ironically, they stop-loss’ed Kim for 30 days to help with the mopping-up in Dallas, which gave Serena time to get over here on the boat, and all three of them met up in Atlanta on Thursday. They took the RoadTrain together, catching up with each other, and Christina and I met them at the stop in the old retail district. Kim and Christina had, shall we say, a joyful reunion… I offered to get them a hotel room and come back for them later, but they both wanted to get home. (Can’t blame Kim for that.) She insisted he show her the scar from the riot; it’s healed up of course but it’s still kind of ugly. He joked about getting a tattoo around it, but Christina did a very convincing imitation of Daughter Dearest and threatened great bodily harm if he did. “Yes, dear.” Smart guy.

Rene and Serena have the same mutual respect they’ve always had for each other, but now it’s an adult version. They’ve never been attracted to each other the way Kim and Christina (still) are, but they’ve always been best friends. The three of us batted things around on the way home, while the other two mostly took in each other. Rene is still pretty reticent about what he’d been up to, although he was able to say he, the major, and Sammy T defected from the junta and started listening in on their comms. Manny went to RoT, and presumably he got swept up in the amnesty (if he survived). Major Shevchuk, he said, was acting strange ever since they left Saudi… maybe PTSD. Rene and Kim both say they’re OK, and Serena is fine since she didn’t see any fighting anyway.

Not really much to say about the end of the Reunification — it was your basic street fight, block by block, building by building. I’m glad Kim wasn’t involved in the fighting. The rulers tried to keep the Rotter troops going, while they made a run for it themselves. They might have gotten away if they hadn’t used a helicopter; the noise attracted attention and the army just followed them until they ran out of fuel and had to land. They were the three televangelists that were running things from inside, and a few other high-level militia types. I dug around and found out that General Mayhem and Sgt. Pepper were killed in the fighting. :-( Col. Mustard survived and accepted the “amnesty” program: he has to do some jail time and stay out of the oil business and politics for the rest of his life. As for the televangelists — both the ones in Dallas at the time and the two aiding things from outside — I don’t know if they’ll ever get out of prison. I know their assets were seized; I wonder if they’ll do what they did to Robert E. Lee and turn their estates into cemeteries.

Now that the war’s over, I guess I can safely say that I got a “visit” from some FBI people earlier in the year, checking up on my junta connections. Just being an officer in a church is enough to make you a suspect now to begin with, but that little trip to Nickajack made me doubly suspect. Amazingly enough, they had an entire printed copy of my blog… all the way back to 2005! (Good Lord, my blog is old enough to vote?) It was much of what made for a rather thick file the junta had on me. Even using nicknames for everyone, I guess someone managed to link me and the blog… I always figured someone could make the connections if they wanted to badly enough. They told me I’d be getting an entire copy of my file pretty soon, to comply with the Personal Data Ownership Act, and then they’d destroy everything but the tax records. What it came down to was, did the blog reflect my real thoughts or was it a front? I was tagged by the junta as a “D0,” aka Dissident, Threat Level Zero (aka all talk), but that could have been part of the cover in their thinking. They left satisfied… at least I hope they did. Harboring the Cardenas family probably helped with that — as well as The Boy being shipped to the shale mines (another thing I didn’t dare mention before now). He’s been around some, but spends a lot of time down at the pasture keeping an eye on the cattle. I just hope nobody tries to steal a cow while he’s down there… I think he’d enjoy giving a junta-symp the 3 S’s.

Our church pianist works in a tax firm, and she hasn’t been to church in the last few weeks — they changed the tax code so that donations to churches (and charities) can only be written off in proportion to the percentage of money they actually disburse outside the organization, and the IRS had to extend the filing date to May 15 to give everyone a chance to figure out their donations. That’s going to whack a lot of churches, and (I hope) put an end to the charities that pocket most of the donations they get. Most churches, especially the small ones like ours, use pretty much everything they take in to keep the doors open. The mega-churches have a little more leeway, but I bet their members are going to take a really hard look at how much their preacher(s) pocket from now on… especially when they start telling everyone to kick in some more. Then again, a lot of those preachers have either been arrested for aiding and abetting the junta (aka treason, but they’re steering clear of that word so far) or are under some very close scrutiny. I doubt that being a Penitent church is going to give us any kind of lenient treatment… if it did, all the wing-y churches would claim to be Penitent too, just for the tax breaks. It’s really a shame, how those people — whether directly connected to the junta or just Satan’s Little Helpers – corrupted so many churches for their personal and political gain. Now we’ll all be paying for it, as soon as we can figure out the percentages. I’m just going to assume my donations won’t be tax-deductible from now on.

Interestingly enough, I haven’t seen any video or other missives from The Prophet the last couple of months. I hope he’s OK.


Sunday, February 01, 2009 16 comments


The wood stove has been increasingly smoky lately… until Wednesday night, when the smoke stopped going up the chimney altogether and started coming out from around the trim panel. We closed the damper and draft down completely, choking off the fire in the box, and let it dry out.

Today, we got around to having a look at the situation. We pulled the insert out and found chunks of creosote here and there, but not enough to choke off the draft; I got out a paint scraper and ended up with an impressive amount of gunk. We swept it up and put it in a bucket.

Mrs. Fetched’s uncle said a “home remedy” was to swish a chain around the inside of the chimney to loosen up deposits… but like I said, it was clear all the way up. We decided to try it, so she went to get something for the chimney while I went up on the roof to see what getting a chain (or a chimney brush) down there would involve. I found a mesh of dog wire covering the exit, which was covered with creosote deposits, so I called Mrs. Fetched to tell her I found the problem.

I went down, got the paint scraper, and got the crud off the top of the screen. This didn’t do much for the stuff underneath, so I lifted the screen… and found about a centimeter of gunk like a blanket across the top of the chimney. This I removed then replaced the screen.

We lit a piece of paper, and it caught and went up the chimney… so Mrs. Fetched started a bigger fire. And the smoke’s coming right back into the house. I guess we’ll call a chimney sweep.

The Road to Irrelevance

Amazingly enough, I’m not talking about the Republican party. Compared to the latest moves by the Catholic Church, the goplets are actually taking their wilderness experience to heart. But there are a lot of similarities: two institutions that have both seen better days, and are now increasingly the demesne of old men — or at least people who think like old men… little or no imagination nor willingness to acknowledge that things are changing out from under them.

Not being a Catholic, I don’t see the Catholic Church as anything but another Christian denomination… even if they were the denomination at one time. They may be the oldest, largest, and richest denomination, but that’s it. But their insistence on placing tradition on an equal footing with Scripture is driving them down the road to irrelevance, step by step. Any outfit that still wants to ban birth control in an era of overpopulation is simply not going to be taken seriously by anyone outside the institution… and many inside, for that matter. An institution that still refuses to let half the world’s population advance beyond secretarial or janitorial work, based on what’s (not) between their legs, is severely limiting itself by cutting out half the labor pool. (There are other denominations with the same self-limitation.)

Looking at the history of the Catholic Church, it’s fairly obvious that a church can have one of spiritual power or political power. The early church ministered to the lowly, even the slaves, and grew in spiritual power until it displaced the pagan religious structure of the Roman Empire. Unfortunately, this was the seed of its downfall: when the Empire collapsed, the church was sucked into the power vacuum and it accreted political power without even trying (although there were certainly ambitious priests who helped the process along). Being literally the kingmaker of Europe, it grew corrupt over the centuries until the Protestant Reformation forced some institutional soul-searching and internal reforms, which culminated 450 years later in Vatican II. But the last 20 years or so have seen some backsliding (heh) from the reforms, back to a more hard-line and hidebound set of doctrines.

Tradition serves a nation or institution well, during times that things aren’t changing much. It has been said that you could pluck citizens from ancient Rome and drop them in 1909, and they would be able to adjust — and adults living in 1909 would have a harder time adjusting life in 2009 than the civis Romanis would with 1910. The institutional memory of the Catholic Church reaches all the way back to Imperial Rome, and nothing that large or old can change course quickly even if they claim the desire… and it would require a truly impressive change to jettison the very things holding them back the most.

Remember… for every Catholic that insists that Protestants are going to Hell, there is a Protestant that insists the same about Catholics. [For the record, I take neither stance.]


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...