Resolved

To ignore the existence of spellcheck. This poem by “Sauce Unknown” should serve as our reminder.

Eye halve a spelling chequer

it came with my pea sea

it plainly marques four my revue

Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word

It nose bee fore two say,

Weather iamb rong oar wright

It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid

It nose bee fore two long

And eye can put the error rite

It’s rare lea ever wrong.

To rite with care is quite a feet

Of witch won should bee proud

And wee mussed dew the best wee can

Sew flaw’s are knot aloud.

Eye have run this poem threw it

Your sure reel glad two no,

It’s letter perfect awl the weigh

My chequer tolled me sew.

Remember, a computer guided the first lunar mission to within a few feet of the surface when Neil Armstrong had to take over or let the computer put the lander in the rocks.

The tendency of petals and leaves of certain plants to assume a different position at night is called nycityropism. People too, I suppose.

The word for eating insects is entomophaby, and if you haven’t chowed down on a Hexagenia limbata yet, you’re not yet a real night angler,

To all my CO Pals ending the year in the blowing, drifting snow alone in their trucks or starting the New Year the same way, be safe!

Happy New Year to everyone. I suspect an interesting year ahead. According to the Chinese we end 2008, the Year of Wu Zi (the Rat) to begin 2009, the Year of Yi Chou (The Ox).

Eat, drink and be merry and after midnight do as a sweatshirt I saw last week boldly suggested: “Be Naughty Now: Save Santa a Trip.” Call it the first step in a country-wide fuel conservation effort.

Back next year. And while I’m thinking about it: “Rabbit Rabbit, this is Rabbit, Over.”

Score One For the Mason Tract

All you White Christmutts should be happy with all this ground fluff. As of four days ago,we were locally in our third snowiest winter in history with a very good chance of moving into the number one place, displacing 2000 and 2001, the current top two years for December snow. The average annual snowfall here is 70 inches, which compared even to the Yooper Banana Coast, isn’t much.

Meanwhile, a humongous Shout-Out to ancora bello Mary Ruth Wood, the Michigan State pre-law sophomore who introduced me to Stumblecom. If you haven’t tried the site, give yourself a hoot or two and do. Mary Ruth will be studying in Roma this summer.

And today, from pal Rusty Gates that all of us have received a collective and huge holiday gift, that is the removal of a threat from the beloved Mason Tract, between Grayling and Mio.

The gist of it is this: The US Forest Service has dropped its appeal of an earlier federal court decision to protect the Mason Tract and nearby Au Sable River from oil and gas drilling. The Au Sable is one of the world’s premier trout streams and the Mason Tract, which blankets the South Branch of the river is a unique 4,500-acre area with specatular physical beauty, serenity, and teeming wildlife. The pristine area is heavily used by hikers, cross-country skiers, canoers, campers, trout fishermen, hunters and others.

The Mason Tract was established in 1955 when the late George Mason bequeathed to the state a 1,500-acre parcel with eleven miles of river frontage, the gift conditioned on maintaining the pristine condition of the property in perpetuity.

Unfortunately the oil and gas rights under the tract were owned in part fy the feds and leased by the Bureau of Land Management. The USFS at one time gave permission to Savoy Energy Company (I think of Traverse City) to clear-cut and drill on an old-growth parcel of National Forest Land adjacent to the Mason Tract, within earshot of the river, and in fact on the only two-track leading back to the famous “Chapel” site.

In July, the Eastern Fedreral Court ruled that the USFS had failed to adequately evaluate environmental impacts and alternatives to address concerns including noise and habitat destruction in its plan, and enjoined the USFS from engaging in any such activities. Savoy Energy was denied a last-minute attempt to intervene in the case being appealed to the 6th circuit court of Appeals (Cincinnatti).

This leaves the lower court’s injunction in place and protects the Mason Tract and specifically the Au Sable River from destructive drilling

Congratulations to Tim Mason, grandson of benefactor George Mason, The Sierra Club, Anglers of the Au Sable and all the people who gave time and money to this very important fight not just for us, but for those who will come after us. Great job and as Tiny Tim said, courtesy of the words of Dickens, Merry Christmas to us all!

Drill, Baby Drill? Not here, Dude. NFW.

Standing-Still Sun

Today is the winter solstice (literally standing-still sun), the shortest day of the year, which officially tips off winter. Mother Nature has cooperated with 0.3-degree temp and 40 mph gusts making last night’s snow pile up in drifts. The wind passes over the house with the sound of a banshee loose in a bugle factory. Counter-intuitively, the earth will be 3 million miles closer to the sun in January than in June. Go figure!

Fun book signing yesterday in Trois Rivieres (Triple Creek). Met a fellow originally from Mackinac County. Spent time with his family in Cut River, school in Brevort. His grandmother owned a locally famous place called Miller’s Camp on the Cut River Road, a place where loggers gathered and which served as a hunting camp in winter. He said his grandmother was the biggest violator in the UP!

Someone I know talks incessantly about all the random things one encounters in the U.P. and I think at some point I will entitle something Randomland. What will be a random choice, I suppose.

Coming home stopped at Red’s Grill in Portage for a burger and our waitress was wearing a red T-shirt that proclaimed, “Be Naughty Now. Save Santa a Trip.” Great little joint for burgers and all-day breakie and on December 27 they are hosting the World Champion Elvis Tribute Artist.” Let’s face it: life can be pretty random.

Random? Saw an ad yesterday for an outfit who offers various aroma therapies and related services, including the Therasauna Infrared Sauna, a dry-heat deal. Today I made a quick check on this and found a website offering the TheraSauna Premier One Peson Infrared Sauna for $3,595 — with free shipping. The TheraSauna 4 Person Unit Infrared Sauna — Straight Bench 12 is available for $4,795 — no mention of who pays the shipping.

Good day to put on your head-to-ground down-filled parka, and hang a couple of lights on your head if you’re out after 4 P.M. Winter’s here. Time for the serious hunker-downing to commence.

Cycles, Spamgullion, Snowball-Eating, and the Count-Down

Recipe books show various formulae and concoctions of an out- by-the-tracks stew dating to the Great Depression and which the hobos referred to as “slum,” short for slumgullion, the term defining what was considered a filling, largely unappetizing and visually unappealing “stew.”

But when you’re down to nothing and were on the road and hungry, appearances didn’t count for much and hot slum was a welcome meal, one more chance to keep alive. It seems to me that in our current recession (turning depression) people are similarly looking for slum to help them through and what they’re mostly getting, those who can afford computers and internet service, is the fare of rascals, cons, and would-be thieves. The sort of spam around these days might be called spamgullion or scamgullion.

What’s disgusting is that with the economy firmly entrenched in, and sliding deeper into the biffy’s cellar, all sorts of idiots are sending out reams of spam trying to gank money or identities from people who retain hope but may have lost a lot of their good judgment. It’s like the old Yooper violator saying: “If there’s a lot of game, take a lot. If there’s not much, take it all.” The electronic thieves and cheats and spammer-scammers seem to be out there under the latter assumption. My emails, and probably yours are instructive, and even a source of amusement. Just as long as we neer allow ourselves to believe them.

To wit: One begins, “Dear Frost Bank Customer, We would like to inform you that we are currently carrying out schedule maintenance of banking software, that operates customer database for Frost Bank Manager service. Customer database is based on a client-server protocol, so, in order to finish the update procedure, we need customer direct participation. Every Cash Manager Service customer has to complete a Cash Manager Customer Form. In order to access the form, use the links below….Thank you for your cooperation. We apologize for any inconvenience brought.

Not only am I not a customer of Frost Bank, I’ve never heard of the place, and awful writing and asinine capitalization and sophomoric jargonizing aside, this note is actually saying quite straightforwardly, “Help us steal your identity, Dude.” I’ve been getting a couple of these alerts from this same outfit per day. The language suggest non-U.S. origin, so I’d ask what the U.S. government is doing to investigate and eliminate such apparent scams, but we all know the choice: Not a damn thing. Hell the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had hints that Bernie Madoff’s investment company was running some sort of massive Ponzi scheme ($50 billion worth) for the past ten years and SEC didn’t bother to investigate. You think our government will give a damn about the little guy? Little to no chance.

One of the regular identity scam ops is built around something called Paypal, which I believe is essentially a legit service. The scams aren’t. Yesterday morning I got an email, not to me by name but to “service at paypal.com,” telling me my access is limited. It directs me to a Resolution Center to restore my account access. It also says do not reply to this email. This mailbox is not monitored and you will not receive a response. The sender informs me that someone may have tried to access my account without my permission and to protect me they have limited my account access. Well, thanks folks. I don’t have an account so ESADSIMA.

The best deal offered today comes from Mr. Ronald.Morris, SNS Bank NV, Netherlands. Ronnie-boy provides me a reference number and the following line in caps: YOUR ATTENTION IS REQUIRED ON THIS MATTER. He then says electronically: “I am writing to you to notify you that I need your consent in the claim of US$15,500,000.00 in SNS bank NV to a deceased customer whose name is not Stated in this mail for reasons of privacy.”

Bernie continues: “My last check on Investor’s deposits revealed an active account with the Above stated amount belonging to a deceased customer. The records for this deposit Showed no beneficiary in the event of death of the depositor. In view of the Above and my position as the head of affairs of payment of benefits to Beneficiaries, be notified that you last name identity which is same with that of deceased can be accepted for a relative/beneficiary to this huge amount of Money. For further enquiries/interest, send to me immediately your full name as they are In your driver’s license or international passport, your mobile telephone Number, your fax number if confidential and your contact address for the legal Documentation of this claim. In receipt of your positive response, I will update you with all the legal Requirement for this claim.”

Yeah, I bet, you slime. I’ve never known a banker from The Netherlands who did not communicate orally or in writing in perfect English grammar, spelling, etc. This email is from yet another slimeball and Ronnie boy even tags on a PS: “This message is intended solely for the addresses or email bearer. Do not copy, reproduce, disseminate or distribute its content. If you have received this In error, you are advised to detstroy or delete immediately. Going contrary to this Warning may be unlawful.” Hey Ronnie, ESADSIMA. Bugger off.

Meanwhile, in an email dated June 1, 2070 (sic) I from one Zola Hahn, I was informed, “You are nominated for a Bachelors.” I assume she means a degree, and In other words, a diploma mill where they make up a nice diploma based on your life learning and work experiences. The sad part of this is that we have all seen news stories of people who secure such diplomas and then use them to create businesses for which they are totally unqualified.

Why do we allow such crap to be sent to people? Of course we also have to bear in mind that a Harris poll published Dec. 12 showed 75 percent of Americans believe in miracles, 71 percent in angels, 62 percent in the existence of hell, 59 percent in the existence of the devil, only 47 percent in evolution, 44 percent in ghosts, 36 percent in UFOs, and 31 percent in astrology and witches. I wonder how many Americans actually believe they can get something for nothing? Or that the US goernment wants to help little people? Given this sort of social scamgullion of American culture we seem absolutely rife for scams and destined to nothing but trouble on all fronts.

In the vein of questionable claims, South Beach Supplements offers me the opportunity to control diabetes Naturally with Glycogone without risk for 14 days! The email says the product has been seen in “Entrepreneur, Men’s Fitness and The New York Times. The email says of this supplement: natural ingredients; immediate results in 24 hours;lower levels up to 50 points in 14 days: experience long term results;reduce high cholesterol, hypoglycemia, obesity and arteriosclerosis; and 100 per % cent (sic) Money Back Promised. I say Bullshit. Hey FDA or whatever agency (if any) is supposed to regulate such supplements (as opposed to “drugs”), get off your lazy butts and start protecting people.

CreditReport America sends an email saying, “Your Credit Report May Have Been Updated.” I’m supposed to care?

Finally, hobos used to refer to colleagues who remained in the north for winters, as “eating snowballs.”

That’s me.

I note that according to various meteorologists we presently are in a cycle of having a so-called snow “event” every 48-60 hours and it’s not yet officially winter. Seems like the disclosure of national financial corruption and incompetence are on about the same  cycle, and I’m sure it’s not true winter for all of that yet, either.

We’ll just eat our snowballs, hunker down, and await spring. Now Hear This: Only 129 wake-ups until the trout opener. I hope a damn UFO or ghost doesn’t cart me off before I can get back to the Yoop with my brook trout gear.

Pome From Da Prof

My friend Jay Emerson, associate professor in the WMU department of geography, recited the following verse over too much wine last weekend, and I asked for permish to reprint it.

They skip my class,

they come in late,

They plagiarize and whine,

But the Red Pen O Justice,

Will keep them all in line.

Jawgah-bone Jay is a former Naval navigator from the P-3 biz, who trained at the same base where I trained, which means we have a lot of shared experience and memories about Sacramento, CA and military life, not to mention the standard navigator’s darkand twisted view of the world. If’n there ain’t no star txixt the cross-hairs of your sextant, sit yewer butt back down and redo the dang math, son. Thanks, Jay

Shooting Wolves on the Sly — Thanks to the Humane Society

An article written by John Flesher of the Associated Press (AP) has been published in recent days seemingly all around the state, including in our local paper. The article details conflicting views on Michigan’s wolves in the Upper Peninsula – that is, deer hunters who hate them because of their effects on the deer herd (“They’ve killed all the deer!”), farmers who understandingly decry predation of their livestock, and pet owners, mainly the dogs of bear hunters.

I own a dog. If wolves killed him I’d be devastated. But I also know that wolves are a threat, so when he is in the U.P., I check out local wolf reports and avoid those areas. Or if we bump scat or tracks in the woods, we take him elsewhere. When we are in a cabin, he stays on a long line cable when he’s outside, and when he walks in the woods he is leashed. I wish he could run loose, but that’s not the way it is and frankly, I like having wolves back where they were when we European troublemakers arrived in Michigan in the early Seventeenth Century.

It seems to me there is no real news in Mr. Flesher’s article. But it is well written and researched and tells the story of a wolf killer being tracked down, charged, convicted and sentenced. If you spend any time at all in the U.P. any time of year, you will hear all about wolves.

In fact the natural return of wolves (they were not imported and planted) to Michigan over the decade of the 90s was widely supported by folks in the U.P. And with de-listing from the Endandered Species Act the Michigan DNR was in the process of controlling wolves, including killing problem animals when it became necessary.

Up stepped the Humane Society of the U.S., Help Our Wolves Live (a Minnesota group), and the Animal protection Institute also now known as Born Free, which objects to just about anything to do with animals from fur to circuses and zoos.

The suit spearheaded by the Humane Society kept gray wolves listed and while those who supported the legislation are no doubt patting themselves on their furless backs, this move will possibly lead to more wolf killings than a formal program of evaluation and removal of problem animals.

I was with officers two years ago who arrested a wolf killer who shot the animal because first he thought the canid was a coyote, then later changed his story to it came “Near my bait pile,” a proximity he obviously didn’t agree with. Shooting wolves and claiming they are coyotes is a common ploy, which seldom works. There’s some reasons to believe that that a second wolf had been shot at as well, but this never developed enough to make a case. Oh yeah, these hunters had two dead deer on their truck, one of which someone shot for another hunter, another deer was down and untagged in the woods, and two more deer wereback at thier camp, a total of five kills despite seeing and killing the wolf. The irony of this (the wolves killing all the deer, but they got five of them) totally eluded them.

My understanding from various sources over the past eight years of working with conservation officers sort of shakes out this way.

* Assume 500 wolves eat 20 deer each and that means 10,000 deer in the UP die from wolf predation yearly. At the same time about 35-40,000 animals are killed by vehicles in the U.P. and these are only the reported kills. The average U.P. winter kills 100,000 animals, a bad one like last year, up to twice that. So in a bad winter year, the number of dead deer can run to around 250,000 animals from all cause, of which by my calculation about 4% from wolf kills. Yet wolves are killing “all the deer?” I have heard this statement so many times in the U.P. that it has become a joke. Hunters, many of whom are lazy and have no clue what they are doing, other than using bait where they can,(and more often than not, more than is legal) will seek any explanation for their failure to kill a deer and they are quick to assume that because they hunt for a few weeks a year or less, that they know more than the biologists at the DNR. I don’t know what it is in this state but every citizen who hunts or fishes seems to know a helluva lot more than the scientists and managers of our fish and game.

* It’s also my understanding that while there has been some livestock predation, it has not amounted to that many animals and in the past the state has paid farmers and livestock owners for their losses. There’s usually an annual report that specifies the number of animals killed and how much has been paid out. I don’t remember the last numbers I saw, only that they were astonishingly low.

* Likewise, there have been some dog/pet losses, but those who seem to have lost the most – bear hunters – don’t seem to be up in arms as a group against wolves.

This past firearms deer season in the U.P. I heard all the usual wolf allegations and saw a truck with the sign on back that said, “So Many Wolves….So Few Recipes.” There’s a photo of the truck somewhere in the blog. I also hear complaints from people who fish up there that the brook trout fishing is no longer any good because of the DNR — the same fella who then says, yep, used ta take 50-70 specs every time we went out behind the camp. Uh, excuse me, the limit wasn’t anything close to that.

Life in the wild is not Disney’s world. Predators and prey are in a cycle. If you own property with a lot of deer on it, a wolf pack can do a lot of local damage, but as it does, and the pack’s hunting diminishes, the pack will move on. If the deer herd was truly being entirely consumed, the wolves would move elsewhere for food or die out. They can’t live without their main prey.

I have actually heard and read of some UP hunters saying the deer hunting was better after the wolves passed through.

But thanks to the Humane Society, lots of oddballs, bad-boys, and out-and-out fools will be out their popping wolves every chance they get. Well, at least most of the animals will be shot, which is a fast and humane way to go. Under our wolf bounty system more were poisoned than shot because the animals by and large are too difficult to trap.

I wish the AP reporter had been sensitive enough to understand that a lot of of the conflict he was reporting on was exacerbated by the litigation sponsored by the so-called “humane” society.

I assume the Humane Society pushed this agenda because they feared wolves would reach populations that might support limited hunting seasons. Boy, would that be a bad thing, so let’s just assure they get shot on the sly and everything will be better.

Oh yeah, I stopped hunting many years ago (after moving to the lower peninsula), but I will eat any venison anyone wants to pass along, and I wear fur hats in winter.

Some Events in the Lives of Michigan COs

No way, Jose. The adults are telling this little guy that the animal beside him is just a dog -- but he's not buying what they're selling!
No way, Jose. The adults are telling this little guy that the animal beside him is just a dog -- but the little guy doesn't seem to be buying what the adults are selling.

On the book-signing front, a correction: the signing at Lowry’s Books in Three Rivers will be next Saturday, Dec. 20, @ 11 A.M.

Of more interest, CO Jason Wicklund of Iron County forwarded some interesting photos, which I share with you herewith. All this is pretty typical of what conservation officers see and deal with, day in and day out.

Three illegal deer, a turkey and three rifles taken from hunters who couldn't follow the rules. This is all in a days work in the never-ending search for violets (violators).
Three illegal deer, a turkey and three rifles taken from hunters -- a not unusual day's work in the never-ending search for violets (violators).
CO Kevin Postma with eagle struck by a car. Officers Postma and Wicklund wrapped the bird in a blanke and hauled it off to the rehabber.
CO Kevin Postma with eagle struck by a car. Officers Postma and Wicklund wrapped the bird in a blankie and hauled it off to the rehabber for first aid.
CO Wicklund with animal a hunter was claiming as the state record coyote. Whoops: It's a juvenile wolf.
CO Wicklund with animal an individual was claiming to be the "state record" coyote. Whoops: It was a juvenile wolf....
This bear had to be relocated. But first it had to be tranked. Officer Wicklund thoughtfully left a fish for the bear, figuring he might need a snack when he woke up
This bear had to be relocated last spring. But first it had to be tranked. Officer Wicklund thoughtfully left a fish for the bear, figuring he might need a snack when he awakened.

Seeing What’s There & Pix2makeUgrin

Call the Uh-Oh Squad. I'd heard of this but never seen it until a CO pal shared this photo. Loons sometimes mistake wet roads for water and land, and once down are trapped, because they need to run and flap wildly against the water to takeoff.
Call the Uh-Oh Squad. I'd heard of this but never seen it until a CO pal sent me this picture. Loons sometimes mistake wet highways for water and land. Once landed, they can't get away because they need to run and beat their wings against the water in order to lift off.
Hexoskeleton
Hexoskeleton

Conservation officers and cops call it situational awareness, that is not just looking around, but actually seeing what’s going on around them and correctly interpreting it. So, a CO pal of mine recently pulled into Mickey D’s to grab a quick chicken McNugget and ahead of him sees blood on the gate of a pickup truck. Huh, he thought. It looks sorta fresh. So he foregoes the food order, pulls the truck over in the parking lot and voila, finds a freshly killed, untagged deer, untagged because no license had been purchased.

Never did say if he got his chicken snack. He concluded his note with the following: Well the legal hunting is pretty much finished here now, but hunting will continue, as it always has.

It’s snowing today. Whew. I was afraid it had stopped and we’d be sunny and temperate until spring. Instead, I think the house is going to get buried in snow and we’ll be trapped inside drinking forty-rod until the thaw in May.

Maybe some of today’s pix will bring a grin. They do for me.

Dude, don't be so prickly! I just want a photo, capisce?
Dude, don't be so prickly. I just want a photo, sayin?
This carving means WHAT?
This carving means WHAT? Gotta be at least 9,122 explanations.
Do-It-Yourself Camo, U.P. Style.
Do-It-Yourself Camo, U.P. Style.
Evening on the Esky an hour or so before the brown drake hatch. Earlier, a bear swam across the river, just above us.
Evening on the Esky an hour or so before the brown drake hatch. Earlier, a bear swam across the river, just above us.
Bonfire at Fishhead Basecamp. Days on the rivers fishing, nights by the fire so large it creates it's own mini-weather system especially when bundles of Ozark cane are dumped on top to create colorful flames.
Bonfire at Fishhead base camp. Days on the rivers fishing, followed by nights by the fire so large it creates its own weather system.
Having paddled down the Eleven Point River in Missouri a couple of times with Fishhead pals, I decided Grady Service needed to visit Missouri and Arkansas as part of a story.
Having paddled down the Eleven Point River in Missouri a couple of times with Fishhead pals, I decided Grady Service needed to visit Missouri and Arkansas as part of a story and I put him there in Strike Dog.
Butterflies on Bear Scat. Good topic for a Yoopers song....
Butterflies on Bear Scat. Good topic for a Yoopers song?
Oh Darkj Thirty, on my deck, the morning I am supposed to be in Midland for book signing. Uh, that's a no-go for Joe on this day.
Oh-Dark-Thirty, on my deck, the morning I am supposed to be in Midland for book signing. Uh, that would be a big no-go for Joe, over?

Hohohohoadinfinitum

Email and advertising on television provide endless entertainment. It’s like watching wannabe crooks at work.

On December 8, the so-called USBank [I have no idea what the heck it is]  announced that they believe my account has been accessed by a third party as different computers havve logged into my Banking account and multiple password failures were presented before the logons. “We” they tell me, ” now need to reconfirm your account information to us. We understand that having restricted access can be an invonvenience, but protecting your account is our primary concern.”

Signed, U.S. Bank Customer Service

Escuse me perperators of UBCS email, and I taking a wild-ass guess here, your primary concern  is not me, but in s stealing identities and specifically my account, which doesn’t even exist.

Today I get an email Which annouced that my same US. Bank account access has been restricted because they need additional information in order to provide me with a secure service. Waste of time to even respond. I simply delete bullshit and hope the senders die long painful deaths. Legitimate banks Banks do NOT blindly seek infomation verifications via email. Only thieves and scum do this. Why isn’t the consumer protection agency sponsoring national ads showing examples of this crap and telling people to discard and ignore the emails?

Here’s one almost as good. It’s dated December 11, FROM UK-SMAS LOTTERY,entitled XMAS AWARD. Message says: Hello you are a winner of $5,000,000.00 USD. Get back for more details. Mrs. Cherry Rings.

Righto, Ms. Rings:  ESADSAIMA.

Or from BARRISTER ALAN ORGAN, subject: Treat as URGENT!!!!!!!!!!!! MESSAGE: Dear Recipient, Get back to me concerning the funds willed to you by my late client. Dear Mr. Organ, Righto. ESADSAIMA

Governor Blagaoyovich (aka Governor Helmet Hair). Dumbness in greed here to the point of pathetic, but it makes one wonder how much office buying goes on at other levels and in more clever ways. Democracy is the ultimate faith-based community with nothing to do with any organized god-squads.

If the autobailout goes through, we are to have an autoczar? Uh yeah…that’ll make us all sleep easier.

Let’s see: Cold War. The War  on terror, the war on drugs, various wars on illiteracy, a war on inflation, Leave No Child Behind, etc. And the number of these ‘Wars” we’ve actually won? That would be zed, Ted. I guess we could say we won the cold war by forcing the Soviets to spend beyond their means, but then we’d have to also point out that bin Laden’s 9-11 attack has put us in the same place the Soviets were. Think about that.

In-sourcing and Restructuring Sinter Klaas and Other Moanday Thoughts

Nick, Etsaintera: Long ago our Dutch settlers brought the concept of Sinter Klaas here, and we then morphed the old boy into America’s commercial toy king, Santa Claus, the man who brings us something for nothing — which sounds a lot like some government promises to me.

 Sinter Klaas (St. Nicolas), sources suggest, was in fact a Greek bishop from what is now Turkey. According to legends he rode a big white horse, which is called in Belgium [Flemish, I presume] Slecht weer vandaag, “Bad Weather Today.” Sinter Klaas’s assistant in the Netherlands is called Zwarte Piet, “Black Pete,” who, according to other legends was an innocent Moorish boy saved from a death sentence by the old guy in the white beard. Apparently Pete traded his freedom for being Sinter Klaas’s chimney-diver for the rest of eternity. Think about that one: Christian bishop saves Muslim boy, who is then converted into a sort of indentured servant/assistant/slave. Yah, that would make a great movie — or a documentary on Al Jazeera.

A teacher friend told me last week that she was recently advised to not talk about the realities of Santa Claus with sixth graders because a lot of the students in the class still believe the old gent is as real as the X-Men. Seems unbelievable to me that a kid can get to sixth grade and still believe, but hey, I’m of the increasingly elderly persuasion….

Are we in a “weirding” or what? (Fans of Dune can explain if you don’t capisce “weirding.”)

 Chinese Junk: Yesterday my windshield wiper blade broke. It was all of six-months-old. The wipers were made in China. And I used to think of Chinese Junk as just a clumsy looking sailboat.

All This Talk About Bailouts: In the old Air Force days, bailouts were something done only in emergencies and predicated on the thought that human crew members were more valuable than the machines in which they rode. When you bailed out, you did not expect to fly that particular craft ever again. Bailouts were about desperation, life and death, and having run out of all reasonable options. It came down to the machine or me. Does this metaphorically translate to finacially boosting our Big Three auto companies? I’m not sure.

But excuse me, Senator-Dudes, Dodd and Shelby, but you two ftellas seem to be the most outspoken on the auto industry bailout deal. Senator Dodd was in the Peace Corps and National Guard and practiced law for two years before being elected to congress. Senator Shelby was a city prosecutor, the U.S. Magistrate for the Northern District of Alabama, and special assistant to the attorney general of Alabama before being elected to the House of Representatives, where he served four terms before becoming a senator. Scuse me, Most Honorable Dudes, but I see no business experience in either of your illustrious backgrounds. So what the hell qualifies you to direct personnel changes and restructurings in organizations and endeavors in which you have no experience?

Victory Plates: I’m seeing ads on cable stations this morning for Obama “Victory Plates,” Only 65 firing days, $19.95 a plate, limit of two per customer. The plates are offered by the America Historic Society, which is actually owned by National Consumer Marketing, an outfit reported to not have such a superlative track record with consumers. Could it be a mere coincidence that America Historic Society sounds very close to American Historical Association, founded in 1884. Or could the name be designed to mislead ad viewers?

Maybe our schools ought to teach a class to all of our media-influenced children about how to identify bullshit? Call it Basics of Bullshit (BOB). Actually the principal of one of our local middle schools talked to me some years ago about teaching such a class to eighth graders and focusing on misleading advertisements and such so that they could quickly detect craplines. We never actually did the class, which is too bad.

Fair and Balanced and Inaccurate Too: This morning on CNN the average price of gas was being touted as $1.72/gallon. Fox’s Morning Bozos said it was $1.75, while their on-screen graphic said $1.76. Fair and balanced. Not a single word on accuracy.

Advertising this product, WHY? : One of the channels had an ad for Garlique, whose own website says the following: GARLIQUE tablets are so convenient – you take only one tablet per day to support cardiovascular health.* [A box with an asterisk then follows the statement just cited, saying “These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. – Itals mine] Neither diagnostic, treatment, cure or preventative: Then what the hell is this product for (other than to take your money)and why are cable networks allowing it to be advertised? Seems to me, No FDA review or positive approval, no ads. Full stop.

Snuggies?: My email has been filling with daily ads for something called a Snuggie. These emails had been going on a while and I had been automatically lysing them until my brain said, “Hey, keep track.” I got eight emails on Dec. 4, two on Dec. 5, 5 more on Dec 6, four yesterday, and none so far today. Caveat emptor, methinks.

Da Birds: Last Friday I was painting in my studio, which overlooks the backyard, and there was a loud, thumping crash against the south wall and I looked out to see a Cooper’s Hawk in a heap in the snow, one wing quivering. I immediately thought about getting a blanket to drape over the bird and calling my CO pals to get the name of a rehabber, but by the time I did my thinking, old hard head stood up, shook his or her head and flapped off into the backyard trees. Headache for sure in that bird’s future. Over the weekend in our snowstorms the bird feeders were flocked all day long by various birds: juncos, cardinals, Keeweenaw canaries, chickadees, titmice (titmousies?), various woodpeckers, and some some sparrows. Usually the birds feed for an hour or so in the morning and evening, but this literally was for most of the day. Strange.

Faith-Based Community Action: The Greater Grace Temple in Detroit this weekend, put a number of Detroit-made automobiles on stage and prayed over them. I was tempted to shake my head and laugh out loud, but then it occurred to me the people there were at least trying to do something positive, while Washington continues in yadayadadinfinitum mode.

Wax-ears and the FCC: My doctor performed the annual earwax excavation this fall. But I still notice that, when the channels switch from shows to ads, the sound volume jumps up immediately and significantly. Now, maybe my memory isn’t what it once was, but wasn’t there an FCC law at one time that forbade such a practice? My suggestion: design a computer chip monitor in all TVs that reacts if the sound goes up from the network or cable side by blanking the screen and not bringing it back on until the normal sound level returns, presumably the show. Unless ads air at the same volume as show content, they will be blanked out aurally and visually. This would be a socially beneficial tool.

Visions: And in other news today, an image of the Virgin Mary has been identified in a brainscan photo, which will of course now be offered on e-Bay.

 Final thought: I’m going to be working on a list of descriptors of Hell (which no doubt is where I’ll be headed at some point). The first one is: Hell is a place where there are no dogs. Later.