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09 Jan

Last of the 2011 Reading List

I last posted the annual reading account in October, and pick it up here from thence to hence. The codes in brackets are no brackets = Fiction; [NF] = non-fiction; [MS] = manuscript; [CL] = Children’s lit; [SS] = Short Stories.  Once I find an author I like, I tend to go back and read all he or she has written, and this applies to long fiction, short fiction and non-fiction.  My tastes tend to be eclectic [ forty-dollar word for erratic]. Some of my reading is background work for stories, but mostly I read out of sheer curiosity and let the wind take me where it will. Over Za Rest of Za 2011 List:

120. Philip Kerr. March Violets.

121. Jerry Dennis. The Windward Shore: A Winger on the Great Lakes. [NF]

122. Joseph Heywood. Red Jacket. [MS]

123. Philip Kerr. Hitler’s Peace.

124. Paul Reichardt. Whitetail Crimson Tales. [NF]

125. James Warhola. Uncle Andy’s. [CL]

126. Mark Obmascik. The Big Year. [NF]

127. Edward O. Wilson. Naturalist. [NF]

128. Jackson J. Benson. Wallace Stegner: His Life and Work. [NF]

129. Craig Johnson. The Dark Horse.

130. Craig Johnson. Another Man’s Moccasins.

131. Craig Johnson. Death Without Company.

132. Craig Johnson. Hell is Empty.

133. Craig Johnson. Kindness Goes Unpunished.

134. Craig Johnson. Junkyard Dogs.

135. Melinda Moustakis. Bear Down Bear North: Alaska Stories. [SS]

136. Edmund Morris. Colonel Roosevelt. [NF]

137. Stanley Wells. Shakespeare Sex & Love [NF]

138.  Robert Brustein. The Tainted Muse: Predjudice and Presumption in Shakespeare and his Times. [NF]

139. Arthur Phillips. The Tragedy of Arthur.

140. Janet Evanovich. Explosive Eighteen.

141. Michael Shaara. The Killer Angels.

142. Lois Hetland, Ellen Winner, Shirley Veeneme, Kimberly Sheridan. Studio Thinking: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education. [NF]

143. Joseph Heywood. Red Jacket. [MS]

144. Joseph Heywood. Horseblankets. [MS]

08 Jan

Sunday Craziness (Mostly Self-Inflicted)

Today on CBS Sunday Morning  we learned that Judge Judy of TV syndication fame earns (a term used loosely in this context) $45 million a year! Say what?

This afternoon a hulking mouth-breathing tardigrade young fella whomped on our front door and wanted to talk about Ron Paul. I ,the house bandog, told him to  beat it.  You’d think a self-professed  Libertarian ought to know better than to come knocking without invitation on a man’s property, right? As for Ronnydoc, If a man cannot control or edit the editorial content going into his political newsletters, how can he run and control the official  editorial content of  a country’s business? 

When I think of leadership in small snapshots of relatively meaningless things,  I think of once-upon-a-time newly appointed Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka addressing his players. “I’m going to the Super Bowl. Who’s coming with me?’  And then they went. When a genuine  leader asks such a thing (not for small stakes like football) but for real stakes, for things that matter, you raise your hand or stand up and get involved. Ronnydoc ain’t that man. Never has been, never will be. All my years in the corporate world I met only one man who could fill this bill, but I met many when I was in uniform. Hard to define leader, but you know it when you encounter it and you recognize leaders, being human, possess great strengths and skills, right along with great weaknesses.

God can’t change the past. Only conspiracy theorists and Superpacs can do that.

All great moments turn on chance.

Here a potential Shakespearean test for villains: The Bard’s villains “prefer appearance to reality, art to nature, seeming to being.” Good test for politicians, mayhaps? Shakespeare, I once read, “wrote foolish things for the foolish, the filthy for the filthy, and the brutal for the brutal.” Sounds much like a politician telling people what he/she think they want to hear?

Course Shakespeare is losing ground. At one point in the not too recent past according to Robert Sanford Brustein [The Tainted Muse, 2009]: “Shakespeare, according to a recent report, is not longer a requirement in 55/70 leading American universities, where English majors an earn a bachelor of arts degree without having been required to read Hamlet.” We’re now dumping art and music from high school curricula. How long until literature goes Deep Six in favor of science, math etc? For some of us old guys, we lean on the Bard. My late character Maridly Nantz and current recurring character Tuesday Friday were drawn in accordance with Shakespearean notions of female characters, which is to say they are: unwomanly woman, able to compete equally on an intellectual basis with men, and they are witty, independent, spirited and refuse to be define by the ‘male’ concepts of virtue and domesticity.” 

Instead of Shakespeare nowadays we have things  such as “QuikCubery,”that is,  people trying  to solve Rubik’s cube as quickly as possible and, to do this learning and practicing certain alogorythims of manipulation that have no bearing on their own native abilities to solve problems. One-trick-ponyism. The world record is 6.6 seconds and to that I say, Congratulations and who cares? Or people who memorize hundreds of three and four letter words so they can play fast Boggle simply for a high score, but can’t define or use the vast majority of the words they can summon forth to spell. We are awash in the the whackadoodledandysea of social nonsense and popcorn fart social gravitas. For example, children coming into our schools here in Portage speaking zero English, that is none whatsover, yet, these kids must take standarized tests and their scores are then counted in with all the other students. Does this not strike anyone as a hair odd?

Mitt Romney wanted no bailout of the auto industry. You think that will set well here in his native state, the one he disappeared from and has rarely re-visited, but the same one he assures  us he loves so much. That state? And then he says, like Limpy Allerdyce, yehyehyehyeh, his head undulating like a Bobblehead doll. [I liked Mitt’s old man, George. But I wonder given George’s flub on the road to the White House if the Mittsker is trying to win one for the old man, the way some insist Dubya invaded EYE raq to get payback for his poppy? Just sayin.’

Naturalist Ed Wilson wrote, “When savage tribes reach a certain size and density, they split, and one group emigrates to a new territory.” Does this apply equally to political tribes? 

Wilson also wrote that” the great talent of vampires is evading detection.” Wilson was talking about vampire bats, but it made me wonder if this applies equally to the true  blood-sucking natures of some politicians?

And Wilson tells us, “In the natural world, beautiful usually means deadly. Beautiful plus casual demeanor always means deadly.” Another measure to apply to political candidates?

No snow today. Lions are done for the season. Good moment perhaps for a bitta usquebaugh uvda-aulde.

In addition to counting animal sightings, we like to keep an eye on automobiles to keep track of various social movements and zeitgeists. In this light friends saw a very odd bumper sticker yesterday, which I have trick-up color-wise but leave [sic] meaning as found, and unchanged.or your viewing pleasure. Seriously, who knew God needed an editor? I mean he/she/it’s either omniscient and omnipotent, or he/she/it is like the rest of us, right?

And also include here a photograph demonstrating that God [my God, probably not yours] enjoys New Year’s Eve costume parties. What I can’t quite grasp is the Hughhefner angle, though I suspect the two entities are similar in age (my God and Hughey, not THE God, or your god, and Hef). I am not intending to be sacreligious here or join in the so-called war on Christians, I am simply passing along observations of things among us.

To close I will try to quote the late philosopher Isaiah Berlin who wrote of the search for truth and the endless contest for the one-answer/size-fits-all quest by obsessive portions of mankind:  First comes those (let us say them or they) with “visions of the ultimate goal, some conviction about ultimate truths, some confidence in the quest for perfectibility, and some certainty about the path to the ‘desired place’  may result in their declaring that a given policy will make you happier, or freer, or give you room to breathe. Then comes us and I, (opposite of you, them and they) and I/we know you/they are mistaken. I know what you need, what all men need, and if there is resistance based on ignorance or malevolence, then it must be broken and hundreds of thousands may have to perish to make millions happy for all time.” [Excerpt from article in Jan-Feb 2012 Atlantic.] If this sort of circle of righteousness doesn’t ring a bell you need to read some history, including religious history.

Unedited, viewed in downtown Kalamazoo yesterday morning.

Herrn Frau Gott on za cusp of MMXII

To close, for those who think I give strange names to my characters, here’s one from the real world of Bhutan: King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. ISYN. Over.

 

 

05 Jan

One Writer’s Winter Grind

I’ve had quite a number of comments about blogs about writing, and this one is in that vein. I’m pushing 60,000 words on Killing A Cold One, an interesting time in a novel’s development. [FYI: Most novels in this day and age are right around 100,000 words, so that’s my target, though I may stop at 95,000 or 110,000 depending on how long it takes to tell the story as it sits in my head.] I’m close to the edge of that slope that will make the story accelerate to its finish, and my brain is so wrapped in the story I’m barely in this world.  No two work days are alike except in the 8-10 hours I spend. Sometimes I’m up at 0300 and work till 0700 and go back to sleep when Lon gets up for breakfast. Sometimes I work from 2200 to 0400. And sometimes it’s a normal 0800-1700 day. As I juggle this story I’ve also got my mind on Blue Wolf in Green Fire, which will be discussed at a symposium at MSU on March 22, the symposium about how fiction can bring light to current issues. I’ll talk and then others from their areas of expertise re wolves in the state.  I don’t know yet how long I’ll speak, but it’s the kind of thing I have to give some thought to beforehand, and not just waltz in an wing it. In fact, whenever I am asked to speak anywhere, I write formal remarks. An audience who comes to listen, deserves something more than rambling entertainment.

But back to Killing A Cold One: Each day I write original stuff in long hand (yellow tablets, ballpoint), and every few days I type the handwritten stuff and print it out. Sometimes I proof the printed stuff, and sometimes not because I’ll have to go through the whole thing later. And as each new chapter is complete, I add it to what I call a Chapter Document (Chapdock).  E.g., here are entries for first three chapters in the book:

CHAPTER 1: Sunday, August 1, 2008, Dimondale, Eaton County:Grady turns in his stripes, wants Mosquito Wilderness back.

CHAPTER 2: Wednesday, August 6, 2008, Slippery Creek Camp:  Phone call in the night, professional rendezvous with Friday.

CHAPTER 3: Wednesday, August 6, 2008, Twenty Point Pond, Marquette County: Pair of gorks found  in tent at remote campsite  by CO Dani Danninger

There is no outline for my stories, but I have a starting scene or ending scene in my mind. The chapdock, lets me stay on course, so it is sort of a navigator’s chart to allow me to see the course and decide if it is headed to the correct destination, or if I have to make some course changes. This sort of adjustment is for me a continuous thing; those who work from outlines (I assume there are novelists who outline their books) probably don’t have to worry about it once the voyage commences because they’ve already built the structure of the plot. The chapdock allows me to see how long a particular character has been out of the action, or if there is a preponderance of action in a particular geographic area and if this needs to be varied some. Thus, the chapdock is sort of the working document for the structure of the book and when I send the manuscript to my agent and editor, they will get the chapdock and the manuscript in a folder.

At any rate I’m deep into it now and spending a lot of time with DeLorme Map books, and with topographical maps from the US Geographical Service [USGS]. You can get them on the DNRE website by typing in Michigan county topographical maps. You’ll get a map of Michigan and you select the county you want and open it and then pick the quadrangle map you want and open that. Helps me to keep the topo features and terrain in mind. I also have photos from actual visits, but sitting here in winter I need all the help I can get constructing my memories. I also use county plat books from the MSU Extension Service (absolute necessities for stream and river fishermen), and on those areas I want full detail on I order the 7.5 minute maps and paste them together the way we used to join charts in my USAF days. If I hit a geographical wall, I contact friends and Cos for their input. The whole siting thing in the Woods Cop books is a major effort and I try to actually put foot in every site I write about, of if not exactly there, I like to get close to see what sort of terrain and flora/fauna I have to deal with. Great fun the exploration part. Lonnie and I spend a lot of time in the truck in summers, bouncing down two-tracks in the middle of nowhere, (and yes, getting stuck and or lost) just to see what’s there. Or if I have a particular story in mind, we may go look for a particular kind of terrain I can use as a story or scene site.

By my definition, a writer is at work not just when putting words on paper. There is a whole lot of time dreaming up the story, and scouting locations, etc., or reading science papers or news articles, or interviewing people on particular subjects and all of this is to my way of thinking, the writer’s work. If I’m lucky and diligent I expect to finish a Woods Cop manuscript in 3-5 months, start to finish. When the first draft is done, I put the manuscript aside and leave it alone for a month or two. Only then do I go back and read again and begin making changes, and clarifying and all the rest of it. Then it goes to my agent Phyllis, and from her to an editor at a publishing house. From time the publisher agrees to publish and we work out a contract, it will be about a year until the book is in stores.

This means that when Force of Blood came out last September and readers were peppering me with questions, I had finished the manuscript the previous year and not thought about it since then, and in fact had written another novel and two dozen short stories in the interim, plus started the woods cop to follow Force of Blood, and helped a friend with his memoir. I always laugh when I get emails or questions at readings from people about The Berkut, which was published in 1987 – a quarter century ago – yet folks will cite small facts and page numbers actually expecting me to remember every detail. I laugh every time. I’ve known people with such memories. I’m not one of them.  If you figure 100,000 words per story, I’ve now got pushing 1.5 million words in print – just in books and not counting blogs, short stories, essays, columns and all that other stuff.  Hell, I’m lucky if I can remember where I put my truck keys.

Obviously I’m procrastinating this morning, and now it’s back to work. Lonnie is at a meeting at the college getting ready to teach winter semester. Clarification: Old navigators don’t get lost. We just get temporarily disoriented.  That’s all from here. Over. [PS. The words that randomly appear in blue, are a function of the software, not my design intentions. Computers= Puke!]

03 Jan

L’hiver Est De Retour

Yes, yes,  Zat  Misairable Ole White One  He iss beck on our beck, I tell youse. By BDT  (Backyard Deck Table) measure we got 8 inches yesterday and previous night. Temp was  16 this morning when I finally rolled outtadasack.  119 days until The Last Saturday in April Trout Opener. (Yep and that does factor-in the Leap Year extra day in Feboobuary.) Finished the animal count from 2011 and offer it this morning. (2010 sightings  are in parenthesis.) Hard at work on Killing A Cold One (Woodscop #9), which means my mind and schedule are deep in the weird zone. And I have taken liberties in “borrowing” photos from Deputy Sheriff Lenny Bruzek of the Iron County Sheriff’s Department (and former Man-In- Da Black-N-Blue-In-Da-Windy-Ciddy). Lenny and wife Annie  (now of Crystal Falls)  are great folks and Lenny makes a cheesecake to kill (Seriously,  eat too many and you will die with smile on your puffleated face.) Animal highlights for 2011  included our first cougar sighting and a two variegated thrushes, which are rare.  Also first wolf calls we’ve heard in Michigan. I had heard them in the west way back when, but first time in our state. We had at least one in swamp at the end of the lake and heard him/her/it fairly regularly all summer. Alas, still no moose for the visual larder. Dere’s always the summer ahead!!!

MAMMALARIALS

Deer 798 (731);Dead Deer 148(490);Skunk 34 (14);Porcupine 25 (22);Wolf 14 (2);Rabbit 10 (17);

Coyote 10 (12);Otter 9 (0);Bear 8 (5);Woodchuck 4 (13);Snowshoe Hare 5 (9);Beaver 4 (0);Badger 1 (0);

Fox 3 (6);Muskrat 3 (18);Mink 3 (2);Cougar 1 (0); Fisher 0 (1) and, Pine Martin 1 (0)

"Good mooorrnnnin Iron Counteeee!"

 

REPTILFLIPIANS:

Turtles 14 (4);Snakes 2 (0)

 

DA BOIDS :

Sandhill Crane 638 (970+);Turkey 201 (630);Bald Eagle 471 (102);Downy Woodpecker 408 (DNT);Redbelly Woodpecker 332 (95);Redtail Hawk 143 (132);Pileated Woodpecker 124 (36);

Loon 100 (42);Hairy Woodpecker 96 (DNT);Flicker (Dollar-Butt) 86 (15);Hummer 75 (36);

Great Blue Heron 65 (124);Pat 49 (24);Snowy Egret 42 (0);Coopers Hawk 23 (20);Dunlin 18 (0);

Spruce Grouse 17 (2);Osprey 17 (8);Pheasant 15 (2);Greater Yellowleg 13 (0);Bluebirds 12 (DNT);Northern Harrier 11 (1);Merlin 9 (0);Bittern 8 (0);No. Oriole 7 (0);Otter 9 (0);Woodcock, 3 (0);

Misc Owls 3 (1);Broadwing Hawk 2 (0);Flying Squirrel 1 (0);Golden Eye 2 (0);No. Goshawk 2 (0);

Red Shoulder Hawk 2 (0);Variegated Thrush 2 (0);and, Lesser Yellowleg 1 (19).

New Year's Day Traffic Snarl, Iron County Michigan.

"Okay gang, the nimrods are gone, it's back to da chow line!!!

31 Dec

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.

 

31 Dec

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.

30 Dec

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.

29 Dec

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

29 Dec

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.

25 Dec

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

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