Tales from the Van – Part 1 – The Sisterhood

Many years ago, I commuted into Boston for work.  And because at the time there was no commuter rail from where I lived, I took a van in.  We all paid a fee and some of us drove the van on occasion and on those days, we’d get a day knocked off our fee for the next month.  And I’ll have to say that we had a very “diverse” cast of characters.  And I mean that by every definition of the word.  Not only racially, ethnically, careerwise and socio-economically but also philosophically and by personality type.  We were a motley crew.  We even had a guy who worked for one of the intelligence agencies (or so he said).  There were a few people who couldn’t stand each other and there were some very close friends.

But even though most of us didn’t know each other “in the real world,” for an hour in the morning and the afternoon we spent our time talking about the events of the day and the latest sit-com and our work day and our home lives and anything else to pass the time.  And it’s a funny thing but to the people on the van what we thought about the world was a pretty important part of our day.  We would argue politics and social trends.  And once in a while, the guys would even get together for a social gathering.   One time I had the boys over for a poker game and sandwiches.  It was a great success, meaning no one lost too much and everyone ate too much and drank way too much beer.  And this cemented the male camaraderie of the van immensely.  Once you’ve bluffed yourself to a pot with a broken straight it’s almost like you’re boyhood chums.

There was a feminist contingent on the van too and they would provide a united front when explaining why men were the cause of all the problems in the world.  That is until they needed help with a flat tire or an angry motorist on the road.  I remember a time when I was riding shotgun while one of the most strident feminists was driving the van through Boston street-traffic.  It was an awful ride.  We were in a bumper-to-bumper jam and she had lost all patience and was laying on the horn every other minute or so.  Finally, the guy in front of us in a brand-new sports car, throws his car into park, jumps out of his car.  He’s about six foot five and comes running over and bangs on her window with his fist.

Well, this champion of female equality, jumped out of the driver’s seat and ran to the back of the van like a shot.  Which I found hilarious.  Until I realized she had left the van in gear.  So of course we rolled into the back of the sports car.  Now I had to climb over the hump and get into the driver’s seat.  The engine had stalled out and I had to nurse it back to life and then throw it into reverse to separate us from the sports car.  All the while the irate driver is hopping up and down screaming over us hitting his car.  I couldn’t think of anything else to say so I shrugged my shoulder and pointed out to him that traffic was moving and tried not to laugh.  After he convinced himself that his bumper wasn’t much the worse for the bump and realized that if he wanted to make an accident report of it, he’d have to tell a traffic cop that he had been threatening a woman driver for being a woman driver he slunk back to his car and we proceeded.

But that little demonstration had us laughing at the sisterhood for a good long time about having a concrete answer as to, “What good are men?”  But pretty soon the sisterhood had convinced themselves again that women were the only intelligent life in the universe.

There was another occasion when the gals were plotting their takeover of the world.  And they had managed to set off one of the less easy-going guys with their claim that a pack of five women could kill any man in a fight.  They badgered him for a good long time and they could see this talk got under his skin so they did it all the more.  They demanded that he tell them how he could possibly hope to fight against five opponents.  After all, they said, if all of them constantly pummeled him from all sides they’d eventually injure him enough to overwhelm him.

So finally, he said, the tactic he would use would be to get a strong hold on one woman and bash her head into the ground and then do the same to each of them consecutively.  He believed this would have a twofold advantage.  Firstly, finishing off one opponent completely would significantly improve his position in the fight.  But more importantly, he believed that psychologically women would be unlikely to continue attacking a man that had just bashed a woman’s head in.

His logic seemed to have been persuasive.  The gals gave up that thought experiment completely and the rest of the ride was very quiet.  After that they didn’t bother him about the war of the sexes, so to speak.  I think they were kind of scared of him.  What he said must have struck them as accurate.

But by the next day we had some new thing to argue about.  I think it was the Oscars.  The girls had a very long talk about that with very little help from us.  But at least things were back to normal.

Of Raspberries and Road Work

Princess Sack of Potatoes is on Spring Vacation from Kindergarten so she is visiting. And so, she and Camera Girl went to the local lakeside park to play on the jungle gym and swings with the other paroled inmates of the local centers of lower education.

They’ve left me on my own recognizance and I am reveling in the freedom and using it to inspect my domain in the cloudless sunshine of the day star (Sol, G-type main-sequence star, G2V; approximately 4.6 billion years old).  And right away my leisure is disturbed by the state road crew and their private contractors come to remove the dying ash trees that threaten the power and communication lines during wind and snow events.  Unfortunately, one of the largest trees along the road is an enormous ash that adjoins the west field.  And his last day is now at hand.  The crew has a machine of incredible strength and capability.  It’s a gigantic arm that grips the tree near the top of the trunk with hydraulic fingers and then brings into play an enormous saw that cuts off the tree below the grasping hand.

Then the arm, defying gravity and inertia rotates at the shoulder and deposits the top of the tree on the side of the road.  Then it takes a purchase farther down on the trunk and repeats this operation a few times and voila, no more ash tree.  Just a pile of logs.  The crew then takes a conventional but enormous chain saw to the stump and bring it down to the ground in a few minutes and then off down the road to the next victim.  Ah well.  These ash trees have been dying off for decades.  My area is relatively off the beaten path so I guess it’s finally caught up to us.  American Chestnut, Elm, Ash.  Good heavens, what will be left in another few generations, you have to ask.  But I guess there is some hope.  The project to restore the American Chestnut either by selective breeding of the survivors or by genetic engineering of a hardy strain is slowly (but hopefully surely) reaching the end point where the trees will be released in to the world for regeneration of that majestic species in Eastern North America.

The thornless red raspberries that I planted a couple of years ago are back in leaf again and spreading nicely in the bed where I planted them.  They have been a rare case where the product lived up to the advertising.  They produce abundant, large, delicious fruit and they seem to thrive enthusiastically in the very boggy spring soil of that part of the property.  And since both Camera Girl and Princess Sack of Potatoes are big fans of this fruit, I have gained great praise for my project in introducing them to the yard.  This summer I hope for a bumper crop of many quarts of the fruit.  The only real hazard is the local black bear population.  With both blue berries and raspberries on site an ursine prowler is something to consider.  Well, I’ve got my bear spray.  Yogi beware.

Well, the girls are back so I must adjourn.  We must be at play in the fields of the Lord.

Small Towns, Politics and Life

I like to mock my small town with my stories of Dunwich.  And it’s true that nowadays even small towns are caught up in the awful consequences of the blue state policies that reach down and afflict us with all the bad practices and crazy programs that are out there.

But small towns at least have the advantage that you are forced to see who it is that has to try and make the machine work regardless of the craziness of the system.  And the funny thing is that face to face with individual people they tend to look a lot like human beings.

And this is not saying that some of them aren’t crazy.  They most decidedly are.  The woke ideas that they’ve been steeped in for their whole lives has rendered a goodly number of them certifiably mad.  They advocate for the worst programs and ideas and claim that it all makes perfect sense.  Everything about them is backwards and upside down.

And yet, they’re still demonstrably human.  They have families and friends and they have tragedies afflict them like everyone else.  And when you hear of these things it reminds you of your own brushes with mortality and fate.  And unless you’re implacably driven you can’t help but feel empathy.

So, it’s a little harder to hate people so very entirely in a small town.  You have to see their faces and talk to them when you want to argue.  Your kids and grandkids go to the same schools and fairs and kids sports with their kids and grandkids.  And sure, you also go to the budget meetings and zoning meetings and disagree about taxes and school programs and road work but it’s hard to see them as the same as Joe Biden and the FBI and the IRS.  They’re not Goerge Soros sprinkling billions of dollars to corrupt justice.  They may want to waste thousands of dollars and fund projects that you think are wasteful and possibly harmful but they aren’t trying to destroy your family.  They vote for the people that are trying to destroy your family but they don’t think these things up themselves.

And when you get the chance to talk to some of them, they’re just as distressed as you are about the price of bread and meat being up forty percent in just four years.  They’re worried that their kids can’t afford to live in their own places because rents and real estate have skyrocketed.  They know that kids have been proselytized into believing that they can never achieve a middle-class existence on their own.  They’re scared for the future too.

I mention all this because during the day-to-day existence of reading the atrocities that the Left perpetrates on us, anyone can imagine the “civil war” erupting all around us and neighbors at each other’s throats.  And maybe in a big city it’s already sort of true.  Nobody knows anyone and random violence is a regular feature that goes hand in hand with anonymity.  But in a small town you even know the “devil” himself, the leader of the progressives.  And what does the devil look like?  It’s a middle-aged woman who volunteers on two or three town committees and wants to hire an extra librarian for the high school and get a new ambulance for the EMS crew.  Not precisely Klaus Schwab.

None of this changes the fact that we disagree diametrically with the things these people vote for.  In small ways, day after day, these people are contributing to the destruction of normal life.  They are a big part of the problem.  But when they are also your neighbors and you have to work with them to keep the town going hate is a lot harder to muster.  Annoyance definitely, and even anger, sure.  But hate is a stretch.

Of Civil War and Moe the Crow

What a beautiful day.  It hit seventy with almost constant bright sun, almost no clouds and, for once, no wind.  Walking around the yard today was idyllic.  The daffodils were mostly open and everywhere the tree buds looked ready to burst.

Now the calendar says it’s the middle of April but in New England that translates to the beginning of Spring.  And based entirely on my subjective criteria I hereby declare today the first day of Spring 2024 in the photogian calendar!

 

A raven has taken to chasing off Camera Girl’s pet crows (Moe the Crow and his stooges) and eating all the scraps that she puts out for them every morning.  Now, I’ve been a fan of ravens ever since I read a book called Ravens in Winter many years ago.  And after camping in Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, my admiration for them has increased.  Now that they have made their way to Compound, I am excited to have them around.  But I do feel bad for Camera Girl.  Moe has become a friend of hers.  When he sees her come to the water he comes down to the ground and she feeds him peanuts from the ground in front of her.  Ah, well.  Survival of the strongest.

Alright, enough of all that.  Had to get it out of my system.

I spent today catching up with some projects that had languished during my recent busy spurt.  I’ve got a contractor waiting on a contract and a check to repair the damage done by a 120-foot White Pine that flattened a part of the upper driveway fence.  A very sad story.  The highway crew cut the tree up on Friday and managed to cut the electric fence wire that keeps our canines from rampaging over the countryside.  The timing of the electric fence malfunction made it possible that it coincided with the earthquake.  But afterwards the physical evidence said, road crew.  I have so many enemies!

I saw some early reviews for the new picture “Civil War.”  The claim is that the movie isn’t just a hit piece against Trump.  I’d like to believe that but I don’t want to see it until it’s been reviewed by someone on the right side of the political divide.  I’ve been burned too often and refuse to pay to be insulted by Hollywood.  I’ve watched about ten reviews so I’m starting to believe it could just be a movie about how bad a civil war would be.  But the other factor that could keep me away is the heroes being journalists.  After all, how many good journalists have we seen in the last ten years or so?  One, two, maybe three?  Anyway, my research continues.  If anyone finds a right-wing movie review for it, please pass it along.

So, Sunday night I did surgery on my laptop.  The internal battery was dying so I had to figure out how to open the back on my computer and replace the battery without frying the system or cracking the motherboard.  As I mentioned a few days ago I bout my very own geek tool set and watched a few YouTube videos for similar (but not identical) laptop models and then bit the bullet and went in.

Everything went relatively easily until I attempted to pop the back off.  Most of it released but near one side of the hinge the damn thing was stuck.  Stuck good!  And this is just plastic so I was afraid if I put too much force on it the damn thing would crack apart.  So, I attempted to extend the pry bar deeper into the interior to give me better leverage but I was afraid that some internal component could be damaged and turn the whole computer into useless junk.  After what seemed like forever the stuck spot sprang open.  Afterwards I checked to see if I had broken anything.  I did find something that looked like part of a female coupling that broke loose.  I couldn’t find where it came from so I chalked it up to being one of those pesky “extra parts” that they put in complicate equipment and moved on.

Well, from there on everything went smoothly and the whole thing was back together in five minutes.  A few hours of charging and the thing was working flawlessly.  So now I am officially an IT worker.  I feel an irresistible urge to write a haiku in DOS.

There, I’ve gone about seven hundred and fifty words without mentioning the 2024 elections.  That feels pretty good.  I’m trying to figure out a good approach to write about the political situation strictly from a humorous perspective.  Since I have almost precisely zero practical effect on the outcome of the election, I feel that to entertain is the correct strategy.  But honestly, I’m still searching for the format and angle that pleases me creatively and would also provide enjoyment to the readers.  A work in progress.

So, I think I’ll go watch something fun.  Maybe Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes.  I like that movie.

Cthulhu Attempts to Swallow the Sun and Fails Badly

The First Selectman was miffed about something.  Maybe his shadow appeared a little too portly or his reflection in a dank lake was a little too unflattering.  Whatever it was he attempted to swallow Earth’s star.  Luckily he’s not the Elder God he used to be.  All he got was a nasty burn around his mouth tentacles, a case of butthurt and a dose of reality.

I collected this shot at the moment of maximum effort.

Lazing Away the Day

The First Selectman Taking a Stroll

I couldn’t face talking about politics today.  I spent a good part of the day staring out a window at the huge snowflakes swirling around in the gale force winds that blew in circles around the compound.  At one point there was an inch or two of some combination of slush and snow on the grass and asphalt.  But by 2pm the driveways were miraculously clear.  So, I decided that my well thought out strategy of not doing anything had worked brilliantly and now I should go outside and take my victory lap with my snow shovel over my shoulder.  Hail the conquering hero!

These April snow events in New England are transitory oddball affairs.  The daffodils and hyacinths and hellebores can be buried in snow and ice but surprisingly these delicate flowers take no apparent harm from it.  Even the birds who you’d think would be devastated by the snow disrupting their feeding and mating activities seem unphased by the whole thing.  In fact, the crows almost seemed to be playing in the snow and clowning around.

Another fence post cracked in the fierce winds we had last night (thanks a lot First Selectman) and I made a mental note to fix the damn thing as soon as the snow retreats away from it.  Honestly, this winter has done a good bit of damage to the infrastructure, what with the pine tree landing on the upper driveway fence and the gutter cracking off of the pool shed.  My to-do list has been growing steadily.

And yesterday my laptop told me the battery is dying.  Of course, this isn’t one of those laptops that has the external battery, so now I have to do brain surgery on it.  So, I bought an electronics tool kit with the fifty screw driver bits, pliers, pick, static wrist band and two spudger tools.  Well, since I don’t know what a spudger is I guess I can’t let myself be caught short so two must be right.  Of course, the tools are going to show up a week after everything else so I hope the battery can struggle on for that long.  All in all, the world is crumbling before my eyes and honestly, I really can’t blame it.  Currently we’re being led by moochers and morons and it’s a miracle we haven’t gone over a cliff, lock stock and barrel.

But all things considered I’m calm and relatively jovial.  The First Selectman was glad to hear that folks still remembered the good works he did back in the colonial era and that his chronicler Howard Philip is still remembered as a kook with an overactive imagination who did give Batman a place to warehouse the lunatic criminals that cropped up so consistently in Gotham City.  Although how that managed to be in New England I’ll never know.  Maybe they thought placing it far away from New York City would be good for their nerves.  Or maybe they just moved the whole darn thing to Gotham over a long weekend or something.  Anyway, all praise to His August Cephalopodliness and long may he reign over Dunwich and please don’t let him raise my property taxes again.  Amen.

Farmer Cthulhu in Hi s Fields

Guest Contributor – Ed Brault – 04APR2024 – The Witch’s Curse

I grew up not too far from Dunwich; Danvers, MA, better known among the arcana-read as the real site of the Salem Witch trials. Back then it was known as Salem Village, while modern Salem was Salem Towne. Growing up I noticed that when a storm was forecast to bring, say nine inches of snow, we got 12. Or a Foot was forecast and we got 18 inches.

I finally had a chance to put this question to no less than Don Kent, meteorologist at WBZ-TV. He looked me in the eye and said “You’re from Danvers aren’t you?” I said yes, and just why is the weather so weird? He answered honestly “We don’t know…BUT…” and then he told me about how, during the Trials, one of the accused witches, on the way to the gallows, laid a curse on the town, that it should always suffer a harder winter than the rest of the county. And this curse WORKED! Even changing the town’s name didn’t help (That’s why the town seal says “Without the King’s Consent”. They did it without the approval of the Colonial Office.)
Best regards to the First Select-Entity. The Eldrich Powers are hard at work in other regions as well.

[Editor’s Note – The First Selectman sends his greetings to his cousins on the shore and hopes they are enjoying the weather they ordered a while back from his cousin.  Gurgle, glug, gurgle, gurgle glug glug glug.]

 

Reply from Tregonsee 314

I live just down the road from Danvers, Close enough that when the leaves are off the trees I can see the remaining building of the Danvers State Hospital (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danvers_State_Hospital )

the alleged inspiration for Lovecraft’s Arkham Asylum (amazingly there are now expensive Condos there, with only the historic main tower remaining as a shared space). Our little town was part of Salem Village but split in the early 18th century from Danvers. We also seem to share in that curse 🙂 . It has to be true Mr. Kent was one of New England’s top meteorologists for most of my life and if that was the explanation he had that is good enough for me, certainly nothing else makes sense,

Reply from photog

Tregonsee. there used to be a similar mental hospital in Worcester.

Likewise it was recently demolished leaving only a replica clocktower to mark its former presence. But when it stood it was an eerie reminder of a different world.

Voigtlander 10mm e-mount Clock Tower vertical angle

 

 

The Long National Nightmare of Me Being Way Too Busy is Over!

Today I finished up a weeklong marathon project that really made my life a misery and seriously cut into my on-line time to the detriment of this site.

Whew!!!

So here I am looking around and I see…

The same crap as the week before!

Hmmm.

Okay, there’s a claim that Biden’s poll numbers have gone up a point or maybe two.  Let’s grant that.  But his swing state numbers, both with and without third party candidates are the same or maybe even a little bit worse than before.  And inflation has gotten worse but the disastrous housing market is forcing the Fed to drop interest rates to try and generate some good news for Biden.  Which will make the inflation worse still.

And the Zoomers are really angry about Gaza.

Apparently, the big tent party is beginning to turn on its Jewish contingent because of Biden’s support for the Gaza War.  And this is causing pundits like the Ragin’ Cajun James Carville to hit the panic button.  His exact words were:

“I’ve been very vocal about this,” Carville said. “It’s horrifying, our numbers among younger voters, particularly younger Blacks, younger Latinos … younger people of color. Particularly males. We’re not shedding them, they’re leaving in droves,” he added.”

So, Biden has lots of election problems because the country has lots of problems and it’s too late to fix them before November.

And the border crisis is worse than ever and the criminal aliens are in the news every day.  And the cities are becoming war zones.

And now ships are crashing into bridges and destroying them.  I mean, you can’t make this stuff up!

Sure, this is more of the same.  But it’s like a train crash.  Once you’ve discovered that you have no brakes and you’re closer than some minimum distance “x” then you can’t avoid the crash.  But the closer you get to the impact the more terrifying is the view from the engineer’s seat.  So, I’m sure whoever is running the Biden campaign is in daily contact with the voting officials in Pennsylvania figuring out if they can add an extra five million votes to the Biden total on Election Day.

Well, enough election crap.  Instead something nearer and dearer to my heart; my novel (The American Archipelago: Book 1 – The Sniper).  Thanks to all who’ve been reading along and special thanks to those who have provided feedback.  Honest criticism is extremely valuable when you’re trying to make a story attractive to the publishers and compelling for the readers.

Anyone who has a taste for dystopian science fiction, I ask that you give it a whirl and leave some comments that reflect your take on the story, positive or negative.  And the more specific the better.

Here in Dunwich the weird is the rule and the weather is no exception to this.  It’s supposed to snow tonight and then rain will freeze up tomorrow night and create a Class IV Kill Storm. So tomorrow, after helping Camera Girl navigate the frozen tundra, we’ll probably hunker down and enjoy the sounds of squealing brakes and screeching cries on the road outside as the black ice claims numberless victims on the crater strewn back roads of Dunwich.  Afterward I’ll go out for the traditional gathering of the pocket change from the bodies of the crash victims and I’ll return as a conquering hero (of sorts) as I dole out this largesse to my minions (dog one and dog two) in the form of low-quality pressed rawhide that I purchase on the websites of third world competitors of Amazon dot com.

I’ve often wondered what would happen if a prolonged storm cut off the supply of these “treats.”  I fear that my minions might notice that there is a disturbing similarity between pressed rawhide and, well, me!  Me thinks Dog One has a lean hungry look about him.  Such minions are dangerous.

Well, anyway, enough yammering.  I’m back and on the job.

Now Gutfeld is Stealing My Best Gags

Here’s a Claudine Gay / Urkel gag from Gutfeld’s show last night

 

And here is my post from Dec. 21st 2023.  Below is the photo from the post.

Claudine Gay Accused of Stealing Steve Urkel’s Look

Coincidence?  I don’t think so!  Damn you Gutfeld!  The Urkel meme is one of my best.

Ah, fate is cruel.  Well, at least he steals from the best.

 

 

Update:

I’ve called Gutfeld out.  I’ve demanded on-air attribution.

https://x.com/orionscoldfire/status/1760764495721271703?s=20