New Year’s Eve

Quiet, relaxed night, this eve. Early dinner at Bangkok, including  a Singha beer, we watched a video, and a half hour ago fireworks started poppetypopping north of us. Very first time ever for fireworks on NYEve (that we can remember).  What is it about some city folk that cannot tolerate silence, solace,  and reflection? Happy New Year to all. Over.

Bangkok Dinner with Jambe Longue.

 

Au-Revoir Onze,Bonjour Douze

Holy Cowsky, How did it get to be the end of the year? B’lee dat?  As we age every year seems faster and I personally feel like I should use every waking moment before it is lost. Yes, certainly this is a compulsion, but it’s a good one. Einstein had at least a partial explanation for the relative time phenomenon, but it’s too complex for me to dwell on. Watch Big Bang Theory. At some point Dr. Sheldon Cooper will s’plain it to us. My conclusion: time flies: There it is. With the end of the year hovering, this seems a good time to reflect and I’m doing this in a couple of sections.

THINGS I THINK I KNOW AND FEEL RELATIVELY SURE OF:

1.We all die.

2. Shakespeare wrote his stuff.

2. Oswald acted alone.

3. The Wright Brothers built their flying craft without government subsidies. 

4. Hitler committed suicide in his Berlin bunker.

5. Roosevelt did not know about Pearl Harbor before it happened.

6. The holocaust was real, denials of this are bullshit, and politically and/or or religiously driven.

7. The Apollo moon landing was real, not something staged in a studio.

8. Social security is neither.

9. Arab spring was looked more like Arab fall to me. 

11. I love  the magnetic, overwhelming terroir or our state (sense of place).

STUFF I WONDER ABOUT:

1. Yo, if It’s  EYE-ran and EYE-rack, then it also must be  EYEN-deeana, and EYE-linois. And Nam did not and does not rhyme with ham unless you are a fool.

2. If god is both omniscient and omnipotent, it seems to follow, based on human performance, that he /she/it knowingly made junk: Namely, us.

3. We support our troops seems to me to be pure lip service that means “I’m glad it was you and not my kid.” It also means putting a pathetic plastic ribbon decal on your vehicle and having that pass  as your badge of patriotism. It does not mean welcome home and here’s a job for a job well done. Vets ages 20-24 are averaging 30 percent unemployment this year, which is 2X the rate for non-vets in the same age group. Somebody want to explain this to us? Could it be we really care primarily about Numero Uno and vets only when it’s convenient or sounds good? Huh.

4. Until Hitler came along, the salute to our American flag was the same as the Nazi Heil Hitler lifted- arm. With the advent of the Nazis we changed this to a hand over the heart.

5. As a veteran, I feel no requirement or compulsion  to demonstrate my “loyalty” by holding my hand over my heart.  You want others to think you’re a patriot, go ahead, but until you serve, the gesture is meaningless. The same is true of the Pledge of Allegiance

6. Churches do not pay taxes, but they use public facilities and services. Does this make churches state-supported?

7. NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND seems to be more like NO CHILD’S BEHIND WILL BE LEFT when government is done intervening in education, if it ever is. By the way, how many of our politicians have public school educations, or have their kids in public schools, viz private institutions? If your kids are in expensive, exclusive private schools, why are you making decisions about public schools?

8. Political correctness exists in all of our political extremes, and in some way is our national sport  For a country allegedly believing in the First Amendment our behaviors often suggest otherwise. Under the First Amendment you have to the right to speak your mind, but this also means others have the same right and may offend you. So it goes. In terms of political correctness, is “White House” an inherently  racist term?

9. I feel fairly certain that Christianity was not founded on the idea that everyone should be come prosperous and rich, or that becoming prosperous and rich is a sign of god’s favor. I suspect many ministers and preachers who believe this  baloney  use their connections to assure that they become both. I have heard of people who select their churches by driving through church parking lots to see which congregations have the most luxury automobiles. If I had a character doing this in a novel or short story, would you believe it? 

10. Computers are the future? No reservations? An airplane model  that crashes 1 percent of the time is a public menace and likely to be banned from further use. But a computer that crashes 1 percent of the time is considered acceptable. What about computers that perform critical tasks in aircraft systems and fail 1 per cent of the time.?

11. Has anyone else noticed how the overall quality of fresh vegetables seems to be sinking in our stores? The gauge of aluminum in pop cans is now as thin as aluminum foil. Manufacturers are cutting every corner possible to keep making profits. 

12. Has anyone ever talked about our national testing of students for science and math in real terms? As I understand it our special ed kids are tested right along with all of our students. But in n countries we’re compared to, their elites are compared to all of our kids. If I’m wrong about this, show me.  Do we honestly believe that if American student math and science scores go up, that American business will brings jobs back to the US? Bullshit. These jobs were  shipped abroad because labor was cheaper. Unless our workers will work for the same wages, this ain’t gonna happen. Open your eyes. For publicly held companies, profit comes first. Employees are expenses, not assets.

13. Why does the United States allow direct to consumer prescription drug advertising. it adds hundreds of millions to prices as the advertising costs get passed through to consumers. This is a terrible practice and totally out of control. Yet it continues. 

14.  If drone designers leave the U.S. for other countries, is this a drone drain?

15. You’ve heard the  aphorism, “No news is good news.” Does this explain why newspapers are disappearing. We as a country and so called democracy are going to pay big time for this development.

16. My sense is that most people do not read to learn; they read to re-inforce what they already know and believe. Most people do not want their beliefs challenged by anyone.

 17. I recently heard North Korea as a “hereditary communist dictatorship.” What the hell does that mean?

18. Are charter schools synonymous with educational  failure and how many are cleverly designed scams?

19. Many years ago George Romney (Mitt’s daddy) got knocked out of the Presidential race in mid-1967  because of flip-flopping his views on the Vietnam war. At first he supported it and then when political winds changed, he opposed it and when asked to explain this shift, he claimed the military had “brainwashed him,” his run was over. George was a fine man, but he wanted the job too much. Republican George put in the state’s first income tax and was responsible for massive increases in the size of state government. Mitt’s the same animal. Why do some people think we need a businessman in the White House? Didn’t the subprime and all that baloney come from businessmen? What we need is a leader, not a manager. We elect a President to do what he or she thinks is right to the best of their ability, not to reflect opinion polls and make decisions based on what we citizens might think is needed. Our problem is that we are forced to choose not from leaders, but from logothetes.

20. When the political season kicks into full gear in 2012 we may look back on this year as Magne Quies, the great quiet.

21. In Medieval times whenever a man fought against prevailing orthodoxies, the tendency was for the powers that be and society to outlaw the man because of his beliefs. Have we changed all that much? Or is it simply Autre temps, autre moeurs, “other times, other cusrtoms?”

22. Great quote from Teddy Roosevelt: “I believe…that human rights are supreme over all other rights; that wealth should be servant, not the master of the people.” He was a republican. In this day and age he’d be politically lynched.

23. Roosevelt also said, “A poet can do much more for his country than the proprietor of a nail factory.” Obviously we no longer share this view as the arts and music are being dropped from school curricula.

24. Sometimes it seems to me we have huge numbers of people who have no idea of the difference between electrocution and elocution.

25. Washington D.C. is filled with what Brits used to call carpet knights, those who crawl around on their knees seeking favors.

26. I’m thinking a new website called Greedybrats.com might make a fine addition for next Christmas. Oh wait, I just looked and somebody already has that domain name. Oh well.

27. The Civil War (choose your own name for it) was about slavery, not state’s rights. Ask yourself this: If there had been no slavery, would the south still have succeeded, and would there have been a war?

28. It was said that investment bankers were about the only species that bored Teddy Roosevelt.

29. Occupy Wall Street. No clue what these people want and I keep asking myself can a move succeed without a leader? I believe there were leaders widely known in Tunisian and Egypt, their identities just not revealed publicly. Are you in the 99 Percent? I certainly am and always have been.

30. In my latest novel, Force of Blood I talked about the attempt to smuggle a Michigan deer to Texas. Look up the Jan 2012 Texas Monthly, story called The Bucks Stop Here,” and you’ll learn a whole lot more about such things, deer hunting in Texas being second only to Football, this deer fever sometimes  referred to as “hornography” down there and buckular dystrophy up here.

31. People kid me about names in my books, but odd names are everywhere. I just ran across this one, Dr. Electron Kebebew, who is one of the highest paid federal employees and is an endocrinologist oncologist surgeon at the National Institutes of Health. Really. Or what about the “inventory clerk” at PETA who changed his name from Dan Carran to CircusesHurtAnimals.Com. How does one distinguish fanaticism from enthusiasm? Names some researches claim can set a child up for the future with certain expectations. Probably I like to play with names for this reason. But let me share Dr. Kebebew’s story: Born in Ethiopia, he was the youngest of five kids named: Positron, Neutron, Deutron, and Proton. The doctor told one interviewer that with a name like Electron, people notice you and have expectations for you but by and large “my name has been a positive influence.” Hey, my name’s Joe. I get this!

32. Next year some people will be worrying about the Mayan Calendar predicting the world’s end on December 21, 2012, Winter Solstace. This prediction was first found on a stone tablet in the sixties in Tortuguero in Tobasco State in Mexico. It predicts a solar shift, Venus transit, and violent earthquakes. Technically this describes the world as resetting to zero. No idea what that actually means. Should we be worried? I don’t know, but let’s take into account the following: 

Historians and archaeologists tell us the Mayans practiced human sacrifice, cutting out hearts while victims lived and burning the organs. Oddly their leaders also suffered and bled for the gods undergoing blood-letting and self-torture. According to one account, “The higher one’s position, the more blood was expected. Blood was drawn by jabbing spines through the ear or penis, or by drawing a thorn-studded cord through the tongue; it was then spattered on paper or otherwise collected as an offering to the gods.” Sheesh. It may be that this will be the fifth destruction of the world. The Sixth rejuvenation remains to be seen. Reports suggest that” to Mayans, science and religion were one and the same. The Maya developed an impressive system of mathematics and astronomy, which was intimately related to religious rituals. Their mathematical achievements included positional notation and the use of zero; in astronomy, they accurately calculated a solar year, compiled precise tables of positions for the Moon and Venus, and were able to predict solar eclipses.

The Maya were obsessed with time; to understand and predict various cycles of time allowed them to adapt to and best make use of their natural world. Mayan cosmology had it that the world had been created five times and destroyed four times. On a more temporal scale, the various days of the year were considered appropriate to specific activities, while some were entirely unlucky.” I guess  next December 21 falls into this column.

Mayan science and religion the one and same? Other Mayan religious rituals included dancing, competition, ball games, dramatic performances, and prayer to the gods. Wait, does this sound a lot like modern American life? Just kidding. Mostly.

33. Both liberals and conservatives own firearms and hunt. Why do we keep assuming that liberals want to disarm all citizens, including themselves? Just asking.

My plans for the new year? Sit tight while snow falls. Red Jacket, my novel set in the Keweenaw in 1913 during the copper strike and Italian Hall tragedy has been accepted for publication. A collection of short stories entitled Horseblankets: Stories of Michigan Woods Cops is being evaluated by the publisher, and I am at about 55,000 words (target 100,000) on manuscript called Killing A Cold One, which is Woods Cop 9. Also helping a friend with a story called Off Wing, a memoir, and soon, after writing is done, I  hope to get back to a couple of months of painting. No idea when any of this stuff will be published, so don’t waste energy on keystrokes. When we have a date we’ll put it on the website.

Okay, my mind wandereth aimlessly. Happy New Year and good Health to you and yours from Jambe Longue (she’s doing great), Shanahan, and Your Truly. Special greetings to my Conservation Officer friends, retired and active, my old lacrosse teammates at MSU and all my 46 ARS colleagues from USAF days. Dudes, Keep Pressing On. Over.

Yooper Tales

It is December 29, and  an older fella shows up at our friend Brenda’s house. Got his van stuck down by the Blind Sucker River with a dead battery, and he has just hiked a couple of miles  down the Lake Superior shore looking for help.  Brenda’s hubby Max isn’t available so she calls their (an our) friends Mike and Monica. Mike and Monica throw jumper cables in their truck — along with a jerk strap, head down to Brenda’s and fetch the  man. He has gotten his 1993 van stuck up the last access road east of the Blind Sucker River (not a particularly easy place to get into with a van). He’s parked straight in (good thing) in sugar sand. 20 minutes later Mike gets him pulled back, gets jumpers on the batt, and starts him up. All this time the man’s wife has sat quietly with her six dogs and suddenly she says “AJ is missing,” and Mike, of course, at first thinks she’s talking about a dog. But nope. it’s her 11-year-old grandson, who went missing five minutes before Mike and Monica showed up. Grandma has said not a single word, and has  no clue where the boy might be or where he went or why….Sweet. It’s  now 4:30 PM with darkness pressing in, and full dark due  by 5:30 PM.  The couple wants to just sit where they are and wait to see if ole AJ shows up. With less than an hour until night, Mike says no way and starts checking for tracks. Mike takes the truck back up the two-track and finds a small footprint, which he then loses out on the hard-pack road that runs from Grand Marais to Deer Park. So Mike drills east to just past our summer cabin, with no sign of the lad, and just past our place and thinking he should turn around and go back the other way, something tells him to keep going east and within 40 yards he sees a brown hat bobbing up and down on the road, coming toward them. Somehow he missed the kid taking Grandpa down to the truck on the initial run. The kid “didn’t think it was no big deal” to go traipsing off a few miles. Grandma and Grandpa and the six dogs were very relieved when Mike brought the wayward wanderer back. Mike said, 911 was the next step. But all’s well that ends well and if I wrote this as a minor plot line in a Woods Cop book, nobody would suspend disbelief, but this stuff happens way too often.  And lost always gets complicated by clueless. For some strange reason, many brains get checked at the bridge crossing in Iggy,  and once in the Yoop some people tend to do some foolish things.  Nice start on a new year for the kid. I hope he gets a clue going into his 12th birthday year. Well done Deer Parkers Brenda, Mike and Monica. The best always show up when they are needed most. Over.

Shout-Out to Ms. DiSilvestro’s Kindergarten Clan!

Thank you heaps and loads and greasy gobs  to all you fine students in Ms. Ruth DiSilvestro’s Kindergarten at Frederick Douglass Elementary in Kansas City, Kansas. The Heywoods (Jambe Longue, Shanny and moi — that’s French for “me.”)enjoyed the Christmas card and wish you all a happy, healthy, and ginormous learning year in 2012. Kids: We are sharing your work with all who look at the blog.

Card Content
Cover Art

Zooming into The Wild Blue Yonder

I had just reported to my squadron, fresh from Undergraduate Navigation (UNT,  9 mos @ Mather AFB, Sacramento, CA) and Combat Crew Training (CCTS, 3 mos @ Castle AFB, Merced, CA) schools. Not yet assigned to a permanent crew, I was directed to go fly one night  as a sub with another crew and the aircraft commander met me at the bottom of the crew ladder as we began to board. No howdies, no introductions, just a simple reminder of my objective for the night. “Don’t. Fuck. Up,” He said. And I said, “Yessir,” and I didn’t. Our mission that night was to wing north into Canada to rendezvous with B-58 Hustlers (from then Bunker Hill AFB in No. Indiana — later Grissom AFB)  who were simulating a Soviet  attack on the U.S. defensive system. I just got a B-58 photo from John Stevens, Czar of our 46 ARS outfit and share it below.  They were hot birds and beautiful to see in the air.  To eject, the pilot had to pitch the nose up so the navigator could eject from the bottom, after which the two pilots would punch out topside. This never sounded like such a hot plan to me for Navs., but I’m predjudiced, eh. Over.

KC-135 hooked up to a B-58 Hustler, Cold War times.

Hooking Up Santa

Merry Christmas, each and all.  Back in my USAF days we got one special mission with our KC-135 every year to plug Santa’s sled with JP-4 so he could finish his mission.  Very cool.  Welcome home vets from Iraq and all our wars.  Over.

KC-135 and Reindeer on the Boom

Scamslimeys We Knowest Thy Names and Games

 

Howyadoin. i can’t believe congress and the President were until yesterday all acting like pre-teens arguing over ghosties in a backyard baseball game. Grow up, you fools. If you want respect, act like it. Has anyone noticed that Speaker of the House John Boehner looks like a once famous TV personality? [Photo follows]

Former Entertainment Star

 

A little friday business of the I Gotta Vent  Kind: There’s been an increase in the number of people sending spam through Google Gmail accounts. FYI, when you have a website scamslimeys crawl out of the electrons like rats, slugs, black mold, and other unwanteds and start sending crapola to you. I  regularly get emails from alleged legit businesses who want to improve traffic on my website. When I investigated I discovered most of these are scams aimed at stealing information or running up big bills with no results. One comes quite frequently from New Delhi India with a phone number of 120120120, which, if you call, runs up huge long distance bills.  Fortunately, these slimewads leave the phone number there and if you check the web you will discover what it is. I list some of my wonderful inquirers, all seeking to help me — just for your information. If they live in sunny warm places I hope they all have a freezing cold Christmas and discover the definition of frostbite. I say to them: Be thee gone to deaths so foul at the hands of beastsye  fear most.  Here’s the deal: Why would anyone even respond to a business that doesn’t spend a dime on email and uses only free -mail? 

Many of them s offer “white hat” Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services, including high page and or blog rankings. They want to increase your traffic, or ranking of your website, or whatever…

The funny thing is that they claim they can help you with SEO and not get you banned. If that were so good at white hat SEO why would they have to send spam soliciting business through email?  Duh.

Some of these emails will even ask you to take certain actions to remove yourself from their mailing list. Don’t do it. If you did not sign up for their list then you should not be on their list.

 Some sources suggest these bogus emails are not actually emails but probes to check for website holes and weakspots.  The computer world: Home of scumscamslime. And our kids are growing up thinking this bogus world is a good thing.

 

Do not respond to these email messages in any for or fashion.

Online Fact: People who are truly good at what they do don’t have to spam to get business. If they were really good at SEO they could get all the traffic they could handle using legal means.

OK, venting done. Have a great weekend, and Christmas, or whatever you celebrate or don’t. Over.


Fun Morning

We had a visitor this morning, Yooper Don Mattson, now of Ishpeming, once from Chassell. And though he’d never tell you, THE Don Mattson of basketball greatness and a member of the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame. Turns out he coached  my many-time DNR partner, Sgt. Steve Burton at Ishpeming Westwood,  who now lives in Chassell. Don’s daughter lives here in Portage about five minutes away. We had a great time talking about the U.P., and Woods Cop books, and basketball and people we knew in common. I even learned that Tapiola once had a high school, twelve  12 miles west of Chassell, their gymnasium so small (called Dolec) the sidelines were painted at the bottom of a wall. Like my old school, Rudyard, Chassell played at the community center rather than in a school gym. Ours was the largest log cabin in the world (okay that exaggerates some). In any event Don moved onto the varsity as a sophomore and he and his teammates then proceeded to win three consecutive MHSAA high school championships, 1956,1957, 1958, and in the course of that run won 65 straight games, a mark that still stands 54 years later. Don had a bout with some heart problems late this summer, but he’s doing good and got a wonderful enthusiasm for life that no doubt contributed to the great player he was. His grandparents were Finnish immigrants and spoke no English and he spoke little English until he started school. “Thank god, I had a teacher who spoke Finnish,” he told me. Don’s coach is also a member of the Yooper Sports Hall of fame, the famous Big Ed Helakoski. Don was a two-time all stater and in 1958 a member of the all state dream team made up of the best five players in four classes. He scored 1,706 points over his career, which still puts him among the highest scorers in state history. A real pleasure to meet and talk. Yoopers relish the area’s histories and accomplishments, both large and small. I signed books for Don and The Saint, a friend of his I’ve not met. Wonderful morning.  Thanks for stopping in, Don. Over.

Toothless author forced to smile and all-time UP basketball great Don Mattson

Friday Madness

Jambe Longue and I did some shopping this morning! Sheesh? Westnedge is like the pit at Indy on 500 day. For those interested, my short story “Man Up A Tree,” can be viewed at The Smoking Poet URL is http://www.thesmokingpoet.com/id25.html/ Enjoy. And for those who like a feel for the mysterious far east (Singapore to be rafflesaccurate), my pal Griz Harris and wife Nan will cross the pond on December 29 to nanny grandkids and Griz (Nanny?) will write a blog. Last time he did this it was from Ireland and I was shocked to discover my old U of Illinois pal could write semi-literate English. The URL for the Singapore gig is www.singaporegg.blogspot.com. It shall be fun to read.

Continuing on the mountain lion string, Larry Cory provided more photos for me. Larry and wife have a place near Trout Lake, and another near Libby, Montana, which is reputed  to have one of the largest mountain lion populations in the U.S. He sent a photo of a winter track. The knife beside the track is a humongo Kershaw folder, not a baby swiss army knife. Ergo, this was a big animal.  And more photos of Yoop animals from Garlyn Zoo near Naubinway, which is worth visiting, as is Oswald’s bear ranch north of Newberry.

Finally, I should relate a story I just heard from the UP. Singer-philanthropist Bono did a benefit concert at NMU. Fieldhouse was packed. He held up his hands and asked for complete silence. It took a few minutes, but eventually he got it. Then he began clapping slowly and saying into the microphone, every time I clap a child dies in Africa.

Limpy Allerdyce was in the audience and yelled out, “Then stop yer f—in clappin,’ asshole” God, Limpy. You can’t take him anywhere?

Actually, now that I think about it, maybe I should send him him on tour with wind-up  presidential hopefuls — just to balance the gasbaggery. Over.

Another shot of a Garylyn cougar. Same animal as yesterday. Again, not the size. This is not a small animal.
Getting sleepy....
Close-up
Talking wolf.
Garlyn wolfie. 110 lbs, 16 years old. Note the long, long legs.
Mountain lion track, Libby, Montana

 

Cougarazzi

My post of cougar stuff on Facebook has stimulated a lot of feedback from people I know (and trust) who have had sightings. Troutbum colleague (and artist extraordinaire)Larry Cory sent me a photo of a cougar from the Garlyn Zoo (Naubinway) as a reminder of what these critters look like close up and personal. Thanks, Larry. Tight lines.  P.S. I once had the pleasure (with my fantastic friend Deb Tabart of the Australian Koala Foundation)  of holding a year-old cougar in the penthouse of a hotel overlooking Central Park South.  The male’s sister was in an adjoining room and the two communicated with each other with whistles that sounded entirely human to me. They whistled to keep in touch because they couldn’t see each other.  Probably a good thing to know if you are ever forced to bushwhack through mountain lion country. Over.

This is a cougar. As a size and approximate guide, think of an African female lion's head and profile, tail included. This is a large animal, males larger than females, which average 90 pounds. Males average almost 8 feet with tail, females 7 feet. Hard to mistake anything that size for a smaller critter.