02DEC2021 – Dunwich Complainer – Local COVID Actions

Here in Dunwich as everywhere in America, COVID has been a scourge.  Of course, the spread and the symptoms in Dunwich are atypical and highly disturbing (as is everything here).  The disease is completely restricted to a one-mile radius around the historic home of Zebadiah Cobblestoner the legendary Whaling Fleet Magnate.

Zebadiah was known in the early nineteenth century as the whale prostate king.  His company sold pickled whale prostate throughout the New England region where its healing properties were much in demand.  And with the proceeds of this lucrative trade Zebadiah built a magnificent mansion in his native town Dunwich.  And there he lived in great opulence until the great whale prostate crash of 1841.  In that year the medical profession actually investigated the “healing effects” of whale prostate and discovered that its only effect on humans was to imbue its users with a decidedly bright blue coloration around their private parts.

Needless to say, Zebadiah’s fortunes fell on hard times.  In addition, a local witch named Hepzibah Goodbody was so outraged at the coloration she had contracted that she put a curse on Cobblestoner that not only killed him but rendered his mansion a nexus of contagion and miasma ever after.  At first this miasma was restricted to anyone foolhardy enough to inhabit Zebadiah’s mansion.  But over the years the contagion grew until now it had reached out to all the inhabitants of the formerly prestigious Toenail Hill area.  The malady starts out as general abdominal discomfort but in its terminal stage it presents as an exaggerated swelling of the lower abdomen followed by detonation of the prostate which usually leaves only the legs and upper body of the victim intact.  Surprisingly both males and females are equally afflicted in this syndrome.

Now you may be asking yourself how a nineteenth century witch’s spell that causes people to explode could be diagnosed as COVID.  Well, it turns out that the federal and state governments have provided, let us say, inducements to local governments for finding COVID cases in their areas.  And let’s face it, it’s not cheap cleaning up the biohazard when someone’s pelvic region explodes so First Selectman Cthulhu worked it out with the Dunwich Department of Health to sort of roll the Cobblestoner Curse victims in with the COVID census.

But with the recent state budget cuts the “subsidy” for the COVID cases has dried up and so the Board decided something should be done to clean up this problem.  I was contracted to do it.  And it was stressed that I could employ all means necessary.

Using satellite imagery, I was able to triangulate the source of the miasma to a corner of the Cobblestoner estate.  In fact, it turned out to be centered around Zebadiah Cobblestoner’s private cemetery.  I brought along one hundred tanker trucks, each loaded with 6,000 gallons of aqua regia which is a combination of saturated hydrochloric acid and fuming nitric acid.  My team excavated down to one hundred feet where we started to uncover a stone-like mass of enormous size finally we could see its shape was spherical with a diameter of over a thousand feet.  When we reached the bottom of this structure, we saw with horror that it was attached to the centuries dead but normal sized corpse of Zebadiah Cobblestoner.  We had uncovered his decidedly malign hypertrophied prostate bulging out of his body!

We climbed out of the excavation in a panicked rout but before following my team in a sprint for the hills I slammed the valve actuator that released the veritable lake of hyper-corrosive acid into the pit.  As I panted from the effort of escaping the scene, clouds of acrid fumes spread along the ground.  Earth tremors made it difficult to keep my legs under me but I finally reached a ridge about a mile off from the pit.  And there I witnessed a sight that has shaken my sanity and left me a shell of the man I was.

The ground around the pit convulsed and swelled.  The prostate swelled up to ten times its size and glowed a bright yellow.  Then the prostate shrank down and disappeared below ground.  But suddenly the corpse of Cobblestoner took its place swelling up to the size of the prostate and even larger.  Its face was distorted with pain and rage and I feared something truly horrible was about to occur.  All at once an enormous flatulence erupted from the nether regions of Cobblestoner.  A hurricane of unbelievably foul air stormed past me.  But almost as soon as it arrived it passed and a look of angelic peace suffused Cobblestoner’s face and then he slowly shrank back into the pit.

After a safe period of time had elapsed, I dared to return to the top of the pit.  There was no sign at all of Cobblestoner or his cursed prostate.  The area had been miraculously cleansed by the potent acids and the miasma was gone!  There are signs in the last few days that Toenail Hill is once again a healthy place.  I’ve notice that Zillow has quadrupled the value of all the local real estate and speculators have snatched up all the likeliest properties including the Cobblestoner mansion and gravel pit.

One other salubrious result of the exorcism is that for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic not a single COVID victim has exploded.  That means I’ll probably get paid for my efforts by the Town of Dunwich.  And I call that a win.

Thanksgiving in Dunwich

I’ve been so busy with my own personal Thanksgiving plans that I lost track of what the town of Dunwich was planning for the holiday.  Last year the COVID lockdown put a damper on this but this year First Selectman Cthulhu and the rest of the Board were determined to get things back to normal.  So, to get the ball rolling Cthulhu invited fifty of the wealthiest and most influential Dunwichians to his house on Monday for a sumptuous dinner.

Of course, there was a misunderstanding.  The guests assumed they were going to eat instead of being eaten but you can hardly fault the First Selectman for that.  He was specific that the menu would come directly from his favorite cookbook, “To Serve Man.”  When I spoke to him, he was still recovering from overindulging but after a couple of barrels of Alka Seltzer he was feeling much better.  He told me his favorite moment was when the guest walked through a doorway and after failing to find any light switches on the walls used their phone lights to determine that they were inside their host’s mouth.  Their screams of terror made the meal all that much more enjoyable.  Oh, that First Selectman, he’s incorrigible!

I read an advertisement in the Dunwich Complainer that a town fair was going to take place on Wednesday.  There would be the usual pie contests and a silent auction for the various crafts that the townspeople would donate.  There were also supposed to be games.  The one that interested me the most was the sack race.  In most towns this is a pretty straight forward affair but the twist that is employed in Dunwich is that Cthulhu alters the geometry of space in the playing field.  This makes moving in a straight line rather tricky.  Three years ago, Josiah Bishop ended up falling through a portal and landed inside of Azathoth’s gallbladder.  He reappeared three weeks later in pretty horrendous condition.  His ears had pretty much melted off and his hair was orange.  When asked what happened he said, “Outside the ordered universe is that amorphous blight of nethermost confusion which blasphemes and bubbles at the center of all infinity—the boundless daemon sultan Azathoth, whose name no lips dare speak aloud, and who gnaws hungrily in inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond time and space amidst the muffled, maddening beating of vile drums and the thin monotonous whine of accursed flutes.”  A lot of people just assumed Josiah had just stomped off because he’s a sore loser and because Jenkin Brown took the prize and they’ve never gotten along.

But by far the oddest story I’ve heard this week was from Arthur Birdsong.  He was walking through some of the more overgrown areas of the northern hills of Dunwich when he was caught in one of the frequent thunderstorms.  Searching for cover he saw a very dilapidated house and ran to it.  The door wasn’t locked so he let himself in.  Finding a fire in the living room he warmed himself and then looked around at his surroundings.  There was a very old book open on a table and he saw that the book was describing cannibalism among certain tribes in Africa and an illustration showed a butcher’s shop with human body parts for sale.  Arms, legs and organs were grouped on tables.  Suddenly he heard a door open above and a white-haired man in 17th century garb walked down the staircase.  The man saw that Arthur had been interested in the book and he began a long meandering tale, the gist of which was that he had come to the notion that feeding on human flesh would enormously extend the human lifespan.  Just then a drop of blood from the ceiling splashed down in between the two men and Arthur looked up and saw an enormous spot of blood on the ceiling and realized that the horrid old man was a cannibal and had just been butchering of one of his victims upstairs.

At first Arthur was hoping that a bolt of lightning would burn the house and the cannibal in the righteous fire of heaven.  But when that failed to happen, he asked the old man what time was dinner.

Arthur had to admit that human pot pie wasn’t bad.  A little gamey and fatty but no worse than mutton.  And the old fellow even threw in some pretty decent hard cider.  So, they became pretty chummy and after dinner they stayed up late chatting and Arthur discovered that they had both gone to the same prep school.  So, they sang school songs and Arthur invited his new friend over for Thanksgiving dinner.  He had been planning to serve a turkey dinner but in light of his new perspective on health food he decided to invite his least favorite blue-haired feminist wine-auntie over and serve her up instead.  I told Arthur that was splendid and I hoped it became a family tradition.  He sadly informed me that he only had three wine-aunties so it would be a short-lived tradition.  I told him to cheer up.  I have dozens of relatives that need eating.  I told him I’d donate one of mine every Thanksgiving for the foreseeable future.  Well, this brought tears to Arthur’s eyes and he declared it a “Thanksgiving Miracle.”  I said, “Nonsense, it is always better to give than to receive.”

So, you can see we here in Dunwich have a lot to be thankful for; friends, family and meat tenderizer.  Here’s hoping your Thanksgiving allows you to enjoy your family as much as we intend to enjoy (parts of) ours.

13NOV2021 – Dunwich Complainer – Irregular Edition

After a day of rain, some wonderful late fall weather has broken out in Western Dunwich.  Up here in the hill country there have been only sporadic sightings of shoggoths and the odd micro-eruption from the parallel dimension where the lobster fungi of Yuggoth hang out.  Out in the west field I noticed some strange and indescribable colors to the foliage on an elderberry shrub which I immediately attributed to a meteoric landing of the Color Out of Space.   But then I remembered I’m color blind so I dialed that back to perfectly normal green.  When I drove out to our grocery store, the one that’s housed in a ruinous, desanctified, former church the proprietor, a man named Jedediah Spoonhandle, eyed me suspiciously when I entered his building.   When I asked to buy some soap, he accused me of being in league with the devil.  But when I told him I wanted to purchase a dozen frogging gigs he became enraged and attacked me bodily.  Apparently, he has some relatives from Innsmouth who have a slightly batrachian look to them.  I finally subdued him by clubbing him senseless with a leg of lamb that was at hand.  I took the gigs and left the price in paper and coinage on his stunned carcass.

Travelling back to the Compound I reflected on the wonderful world we live in and the strange occurrences that seem to follow me wherever I go.  But then I remembered that it’s Saturday and Saturday is a strange day around here so that put things in perspective.  When I arrived home, I asked Camera Girl if anything had happened while I was gone.  She said no but looking out the kitchen window I noticed that something had flattened two sheds and about a dozen cattle on the neighboring field belonging to Josiah Whateley.  When I brought this to her attention she stopped to reflect then said, “Yes, but it is Saturday.”  So, I shrugged and said, “Yeah, that’s true.”

I hadn’t spoken to old Whateley in a while so I ambled over to his field where he was collecting cow carcasses for salvage and I greeted him cheerily.  But for whatever reason he seemed sort of quiet.  So, I asked him what was the matter and he said, “T’ain’t right that unspeakable, blasphemous, eldritch abominations from beyond space and time keep flattening my outbuildings and livestock whenever they get a notion.”  So, I said, “Well Josiah, why don’t you ask for help at the next Town Council?”  But he backed up with a look of revulsion and said, “And be branded a complainer like you?  No thankee.”

I should have known that even in the heart of a quagmire of unspeakable horror that good old Yankee independence would recoil against asking for help from his neighbors.  I agreed with Josiah and mentioned that one of his flattened sheds looked like it could be used as a patch for one of his other sheds that had only been half flattened and that his smashed cattle would make a very good mulch for his alfalfa field.  I like to think that my talk cheered him up some.

As I walked back to my house, I noticed that a tentacle about as thick as a telephone pole and about a hundred feet long was dragging a full-grown black bear into the swamp.  The panicked roaring of the animal as it was pulled under the surface reminded me that life in Dunwich was full of unexpected problems that could ruin your peace of mind if you didn’t make sure to look on the bright side of things and whistle a happy tune.  I thought, “That poor bear, he probably forgot to look on the bright side of things and he certainly wasn’t whistling a happy tune, and now look at him.”

And by golly now I was right back in step with the world.  I dashed for the side door just as a squadron of eagle sized dragonflies made a bee line for me.  I beat them to the door just in time to hear them slam into the outside of the door after I had drawn the deadbolt.  Suckers!

After a wonderful dinner I sat down in the living room to write up this little post when the motion detector on the west side of the house activated the flood light.  In the dazzling light half a dozen ghouls were staggering back toward the tree line.  I thought about running for my rifle and trying to pick off a few of them but I remembered that ghoul hunting season didn’t start until December so I smiled sheepishly and went back to finishing this report.

Well it was a quiet day in Dunwich today but enjoying nature and the simple pleasures of interacting with neighbors shows you what’s really important in life; timing, muscle memory and pure dumb luck.

Local Election Results in Dunwich

Living as I do in the mythical New England town of Dunwich, election results take a little longer than they do in the outside world.  What with eruptions of elder gods and eldritch horror of nonspecific origin popping up incessantly it takes the election committee quite a lot of time to count the white and black pebbles that we use for voting purposes.  I mean when they’re distracted, they lose count and have to start all over.  And then there are the disqualifications.  If one of the candidates is discovered to have webbed fingers or toes or gills during the mandatory examination, then everything has to stop while the unfortunate individual is burned at the stake or crushed under a door stacked with large smooth stones.  Lately they’ve switched completely to door crushing because of the greenhouse gases emitted by the stake burning procedure.  Time marches on.  Of course, the runner-up is glad, as long as he isn’t similarly non-conforming.

Well, the point is we finally have our results and they are pleasing.  The stupid party was resoundingly re-elected and the evil party was gratifyingly defeated.  I performed an exorcism rite complete with incantations from the Necronomicon (or was it Comic-Con?) and rendered all attacks by the power of darkness null and void (in other words I paid up my property taxes).  And now I can expect to enjoy another two years of quiet, efficient, demonic public service by the good people of the stupid party as they do their best to hold the powers of the evil party at bay.

I intend to continue attending the local Republican Party meeting and find out if I can get involved in some less painful volunteer services.  I’d like to work with the election committee and find out how the sausages get made.  And in fact, I’d also like to find out what other functions I can help out around town.  I may be trapped here in Dunwich for a few years so I might as well make the best of it.

Who knows, maybe I’ll become an adjunct lecturer at Miskatonic University in advanced perpetual motion engineering.  We all have to do our best to save the planet.  After all, both Greta Thunberg and Cthulhu are depending on us.

photog’s Technophobia

So, as I’ve alluded to recently, I’ve been playing host to one of my descendants recently and whenever he visits, he’s always shocked by how little progress I’ve made technologically since his last visit and in a spirit of charity he tries to modernize my approach to various everyday life circumstances.

For instance, he reminded me pointedly that my camera, the Sony A7 III, still had the original firmware version.  But there were currently versions above revision 4.  And he stressed the fact that one of those revisions included a major upgrade to eye autofocus and tracking autofocus capability.  And since he is painfully aware of my legendary laziness, he begged me to actually perform the upgrade while he was watching, which I did.

Later when he attempted to run a YouTube video on the tv through a DVD player that had wi-fi, he was dismayed at the terrible bandwidth and asked if I had any other alternative devices.  I explained that a year ago I bought a Roku device but it seemed as if I would need to pay for a monthly subscription so in my annoyance at being sucked in, I threw it into my tech scrap heap and forgot all about it.  He assured me that the credit card registration was a harmless feint and I would not be charged for free applications like YouTube and other movie channels that had free services.  He then dug it out, installed it and suddenly my wide screen tv became a new world of high-definition nature shows that he favors.

And the other day he asked me about my photo workflow.  I use Capture One software to post-process my files and I had mentioned that the loading and backup time was becoming unmanageably long.  So, we went through the system and identified that one of my settings had been accidentally changed and I was loading all my files to one folder that was now horrifyingly large.

I attempted to remedy the situation.  I did successfully change the setting and now am no longer making the problem worse.  Score one for me!  But I then attempted to break the catalog into smaller pieces to speed up the processing time.  That didn’t work out so well.  Capture One has several categories of files.  There are catalogs and sessions and folders and even other things that I’m not really sure I understand at all.  I spent several hours chopping up the giant folder into my existing file system.  Then I tried to point the thumbnail renderings to the new file system and that was a total failure.  It wouldn’t locate the files for the thumbnails to work as needed, a crushing blow.  An alternative would be to manually point the thumbnails to the individual files one by one.  But since there are tens of thousands of files, I might not live long enough to accomplish this.  Plan B is to spend several hours combining all the files back into one folder the way they were before I started changing it and then move the thumbnails and files together into separate folders.  It’s sad to know just how inept I am with the software tools I work with.  But an honest man must swallow the hard truth and try to do better.  I have vowed, with Peter Thiel as my witness, that I will get my tech house in order.  I will give a DAM (that’s digital image management) and get my millions of photo files under control.  I will learn how to make my own plug-ins for my website.  And I will spend the time to find the appropriate (and cheap) software I need to optimize my other digital occupations like fiction writing.

Of course, I won’t start today.  We’re having a big get together and I have to help Camera Girl with the set-up and general chores.  But soon!  And from now on!  The world will see a new photog!

Did that sound convincing?

photog Reminisces on New England Hurricanes

New England is a benighted region.  It’s not coincidental that H. P. Lovecraft was from here.  Even though I’m not a native New Englander I have now lived the majority of my life here and so I had the honor to ride the Hurricane Bob Express back in 1991.  Bob was the last hurricane to actually make landfall as a hurricane in New England so it’s remembered fondly.

Back then I was a hot-shot process engineer working for an engineering company that had been purchased by one of the major defense contractors and therefore had plenty of money for plane fare.  We had a processing plant in Cape May NJ that needed an operational audit prior to submitting a proposal to modernize the plant.  You would have thought that a hurricane coming up the east coast was a good enough reason to postpone the trip.  You would have thought wrong.

So, there I was early on the morning of August 19th 1991 sitting on the tarmac of Boston’s Logan Airport with several of my associates waiting to take off for the relatively short trip to southern New Jersey.  Several of the passengers including the fellow sitting next to me on the flight were nervous.  I on the other hand have always felt that since I have virtually zero control over what happens once I sit down in a plane, there’s really no sense in worrying.  So, I was reading a book.

There was a substantial delay on the tarmac while the tower decided whether to cancel the flight.  We could see that the wind and rain were pretty awful outside the plane.  Finally, the decision was made to take off and away we went.  The stewardesses began moving down the aisle taking drink orders when we hit the brunt of the storm.  The sensation was like a mechanical bull.  The plane bucked up and down for several minutes with even a little lateral motion to make it really interesting.  I experienced a giddiness like you get on a roller coaster and actually found myself laughing out loud.  The personal experience of the other passengers definitely varied.  There was a good amount of spirited screaming.  The poor stewardesses got the worst of it.  They were flung out of the aisle onto the passengers.  Their heavy metal cart jumped around but stayed right side up.  The girls eventually beat a hasty retreat to the end of the aisle and stayed there.

But the funniest thing was that the passengers kept hitting their call buzzers.  They wanted their drinks.  Apparently, they needed the booze right away.  Finally, the head stewardess starting screaming over the PA system to order them to stop hitting the buzzers.  It was quite a scene.  I think my neighbor was praying.  He had his head down and his eyes shut.

Twenty minutes later we were back in the sunshine and when we landed shortly after that it was hot and sunny.  The hurricane seemed to have scrubbed everything clean and it was a beautiful day.  We did our work and caught a flight home that night.  Hurricane Bob was long gone but he had left his mark.  There was no power or phones and the bus I was supposed to take wasn’t running.

I ended up taking a subway train to a commuter train to a bus station and took a bus to a stop where I could walk down a road for about two miles to where my car was parked.  By the time I got home Camera Girl had given me up for dead but was willing to break out some food and drink for the conquering hero.  Thus ended my adventure in hurricane bronco busting.  Not exactly Pecos Bill material but highly entertaining.

So now Hurricane Henri is teed up.  Once again, it’s a hurricane with a guy’s name which is sort of disreputable to start with.  And it’s French which adds insult to injury.  It’s going to be a Category One Storm so far.  But the track is going to be dead center on target to where I live which kind of stinks.  But we’ve got a generator, plenty of food and water and an emergency of this sort provides a manly man such as myself with the opportunity to impress his damsel in distress with his prowess at fighting the raw power of nature head on.  Plus, we have pop-corn and a DVD player if things really get dicey.  Well, here’s to survival.  At least I’m not in Kabul.

A Voice Out of the Past – Part 1

Today I was taking care of some paperwork and a phone call came through.  Now we only have a land line.  No smartphone paraphernalia so I have to go over to the phone to see who’s there.  Well, the phone number was from the New York City area and was unfamiliar so I let it go to voicemail.  When the caller started leaving a message, I immediately recognized the voice and as he started leaving his name, I found out I was right.  It was a guy I worked with back in 1987.  I left the City in 1988 and I guess I never expected to hear from him again.

I immediately picked up the call and we started catching up.  Apparently, he retired last year and was cleaning up some old letters and photos from the time period and he decided to try and look me up.  We did the usual back and forth talking about the people we worked with back then and it was amazing how many details were at our fingertips even after thirty-four years.  As it turned out both of us left the field we were in at the time.  Which is not surprising.  He and I had separately drifted into the securities industry by getting our Series 7 license to work in Manhattan’s Wall Street district during the bull market of the 1980’s.  The fact that we both left after the 1987 crash is hardly surprising but it is gratifying to know that he also found a safe haven in the economy of the time.

Well, we swapped stories about what had happened to us since that time and then we asked each other if we knew of any of the other people we worked with.  But mostly we had lost touch with a former life.  And then we reflected on that life.  We agreed it wasn’t a place you would want to stay in for long but that it taught you a lot about people and a lot about yourself.  We exchanged info and we plan on getting together for a reunion.

But it’s got me thinking about some of the things that went on back then.  And some of them are pretty good stories.  I think they’re worth relating.

I got involved with Wall Street when I ran out of money to complete the last few credits of my engineering degree.  I had a wife and three young kids and bills and things that needed buying.  So, I decided to become a “stock broker” and make my fortune or at least get enough money to finish my degree.

That was a different world.  You see the retail brokers of back then were being replaced by the “discount brokers.”  And shortly both would be replaced by electronic trading that would sweep away the old Wall Street completely.  But back then we still had accounts and clients and commissions and had to wear suits and ties.  We had to know the floor brokers and know how to deal with the various options exchanges and we had to at least hint to the customer that we could do magical things with his order.  There was a definite P.T. Barnum aspect to the customer relations side of the job.

And this bull market was a magnet for people looking to live in the New York City area and wanted to “get rich.”  Almost all of the brokers traded their own accounts and many of them dreamed of building up a stake and making a living day-trading.  And it was this powerful force that ensured that the entrants were a motley crew.  We had all kinds.  And some of them were quite colorful.  Some were actually crazy.  This was partly due to the drug culture of the time.  Several of the people I worked with had a cocaine problem.  One fellow in particular named Joe eventually was forced out when he started having real problems.  Joe was a colorful character.  He was always using small exercise devices to strengthen his hands and wrists and he was constantly throwing karate punches and blocks in the air around his desk.  He was quite a sight.  On Halloween he brought in a black velvet bag that had what looked like an actual human skull.  And one evening when his supervisor Rich was berating him for not handling his fair share of the work load Joe picked this little man up by the forearms and walked him over to one of the windows and asked him if he’d like to be thrown out.  Joe was a pretty big guy and we were on the 15th floor of an old building that had old style windows that could be opened.  Nobody thought Joe would throw Rich out the window, except maybe Rich, but it was a serious breach of office etiquette to say the least.  Luckily for Joe, Rich never said anything about it and afterwards gave Joe a wide berth.

Later on, I was Joe’s supervisor and he came to me to complain that people were talking about him.  You can imagine I wasn’t particularly surprised to hear this.  So, I took him into a conference room and asked him to tell me about it.  He said that he heard them talking about him in the lunch room.  He was sitting next to the soda machine so he was sort of hidden from the rest of the room.  He heard some comments about himself that were very insulting.  They made him pretty mad but rather than start a fight he came to me.  I complimented him on his restraint and then asked him who made the comments.  He said, “The soda machine.”

Well, that slowed me down.  I said, “Joe, I’m going to have to kick this upstairs to Bill.”   Bill was the senior manager for the brokers.  I said, “Bill deals directly with all vending machine related issues.”  Then I told Joe that he looked a little tired and considering what he had been through I thought he should take the rest of the day off and get some rest.  He thanked me and went home.  When I passed this along to Bill his eyes bugged out and he told me to leave this to him and not mention it to anyone.  Joe never came back to the office.  But about three months later he called me at home and told me that the company had helped him find a good rehab program to get off the cocaine.  And he had left Wall Street behind and was working for his uncle who had a printing business in Brooklyn.  He sounded as happy as I’d ever heard him.  Joe may not have been the craziest guy I worked with on Wall Street but he was surely one of the most colorful.  And he had one of the happiest endings to his story there.

The Dog Day

It’s a hot one, a scorcher.  I was out there trying to get some shots of hummingbirds and I think they were watching me from the shade of the trees saying to each other, “Is he crazy?  We’re not going out in that sun for a little sugar water!”

But this is real summer.  You can see all the moisture the ground has soaked up over the last month or so rippling into the air as currents of chromatic diffractions of the solar photons pummeling the ground.  I put on my floppy hat and brave the noonday sun in quest of photographic knowledge.  And there’s scant little of that.  Even the usually reliable bees and butterflies and even the dragonflies have taken refuge out of the sun, the cowards.

Camera Girl and Princess Sack-of-Potatoes took to the pool after lunch and of course as soon as I went in for lunch, supposedly, the hummingbirds were everywhere, on the flowers, at the feeders, even hovering between the girls at the side of the pool.  I shouted out, “Fake News!”  But her haughty sneer let me know I wasn’t fooling Camera Girl.  I knew she spoke the truth.

I will go back out after four.  At that point the sun’s blast will be merely Saharan and therefore survivable.  I will say that this tracking autofocus function still requires a fair amount of skill, of technique that I am sadly lacking.  But persevere I will.  I must know the answers.  Are my old lenses useful or ballast?  I will find out.

After conferring with my grandsons I recognized their seasonal anxiety.  They sense the end of summer vacation.  They reminded me not to waste the days that we have left.  Labor Day is right up the road and after that there’s nothing on the horizon until Halloween.  So I must get out there and see what I can see.

I think tomorrow I’ll head for the local lake.  I want to see if any water birds are around.  That would be a nice tame autofocus-tracking target.  I’m tired of trying to capture Larold running at full tilt.  The camera doesn’t stand a chance.  Last year there was a bald eagle at that lake.  I don’t suppose I’ll luck out and it’ll be there but you never know.  In an unrelated photographic idea there is an old colonial graveyard nearby and I thought I’d go over there and do some closeup photography of the old stones.  Nothing that will show the whole stones but more the texture of the erosion on the carving.

Haven’t seen much wildlife this summer.  There was a bear on the property recently but he didn’t do any damage surprisingly enough.  Last year he flattened one of our bird feeder polls.  And speaking of birds Camera girl has been reading about some mysterious bird ailment that is killing the birds.  So of course the first thing they tell her is “Stop feeding the birds!”  Blah, blah, blah.  I told her do as she pleases.  If feeding the birds is going to cause the apocalypse then let her rip.  I figure it’s bird COVID.  So why shouldn’t they get a taste of it too?

Well, the silly season is ending in three weeks or so.  Then we’ll have the atrocities in Washington to bemoan, only I’m all out of outrage for the inevitable.  I figure codified election fraud is in our immediate future so bring it on.  But it will wake up a mess of normies.  Maybe that will do some good.  So enjoy the rest of the summer and I’ll be here when you get back.

And here is the dog himself Larold the Wonder Dog.

Wayne’s World

Ah, the joys of domesticity.  Today, in anticipation of the weekend barbecue, I am working my way down Camera Girl’s list of chores.  I have swept and mopped the front deck, washed the windows, cleaned the lawn furniture, bought a new toilet seat, bought some stuff I needed to install a couple of air conditioners, bought some stuff to clean the cars and dug out my ladder to clean the first-floor gutters.

Yesterday unexpectedly, the roofer, Wayne, showed up out of the blue after three weeks of radio silence and said he was ready to look at those couple of shingles that had come loose during an EF5 tornado that had moved the house onto my neighbor-across-the-road’s property.  The neighbor’s been real good about us living on his land.  Of course bringing the plumbing and electrical services under the road cost me a good deal but I was looking for more interaction with the neighbors anyway so it’s been a great experience, all in all.

Anyway, Wayne (by the way all roofers in my experience are named Wayne) came over with the ricketiest wooden ladder I’ve ever seen and set it down against the house.  Now, the spot where he wanted to climb slopes at about a 45-degree angle and he proceeded to even it out by piling a couple of boards under one of the ladder’s feet.  I’m looking at this and thinking, is this guy insured?  Wayne’s assistant has the job of putting tension on the rope attached to the ladder.  Looking at this I’m trying to form a diagram in my head of the forces at play in this little scene.  Wayne’s weight, Bob’s tension on the line, the frictional force between the boards and the soaking wet grass underneath them and the absurd angle of the ladder and the ground and the force of my blood pounding in my veins watching this insanity.  I felt like I was participating in a Three Stooges routine in real time.  I suspect I was Moe but I wasn’t completely sure.

Miraculously every one walked away alive and intact including my repaired roof shingles.  Wayne charged me a paltry eighty bucks and I felt like I had gotten off easy in the lottery of life but vowed to find another Wayne in the future.  Unfortunately, Wayne’s perambulation on top of my house woke up my granddaughter who was taking her mid-day nap and this didn’t endear either myself or Wayne to Camera Girl.  We already had a previous roofer named Wayne that she despises due to various offenses against the code of acceptable contractor conduct.  So this only reinforced her hatred for contractors in general and specifically roofers named Wayne.  I will say in defense of the earlier Wayne that he is a staunch fan of Donald Trump and even placed an enormous Trump sign on the side of his work truck.

Of course the danger with outside work in New England is you invariably discover some new and worse damage to home and environs.  I am always fighting a losing battle against snow and moisture damage.  I recently replaced and painted some external woodwork (stairs and railings) and already I saw rotted sections.  But not being someone who quits easily, I am formulating a plan that involves wrapping these areas with waterproof tarps during the winter months.  This seems kind of crazy but the alternative is to replace the wood with something impervious to snow and rain.  I’m guessing concrete or stainless steel are the only sure bets and that would be very expensive.

And walking around the yard I noticed the deer finally put me out of my misery by eating every last one of the daylily flower buds that were growing in one of the more remote beds.  Blah, blah, everyone has to eat, blah blah.  I’m going to move those damn things this autumn and put them within stone throwing distance of my house.  I hope they bring wolves back to New England and they eat these deer into extinction.  Yes I do.

So today was a useful day.  And doing outside work kept me from thinking of Dementia Joe and how badly our country has been damaged.  Tomorrow I’ll return to contemplating the end of western civilization.  But today I got the chores done.

14JUL2021 – OCF Update Mid-July Report

This will be an outrage free day.  Even though Bastille Day is not my idea of a holiday worth celebrating today is a joyous occasion in my house.  I will therefore accentuate the positive.

I think I will initiate a series of posts devoted to various facets of Western Civilization.  I’ll range over history, culture, ethnography and geography.  I’m tempted to start from ancient historical and geographical facts about the region and then move forward through time introducing the various actors as  they appear on the scene.  Now do I start with the Neanderthals?  Finding out they were red-heads means the Irish may want to claim then for their own.

I will include information on the Yamnaya who appear to have been the mythical proto-Indo-European tribe that expanded East and West and spawned the languages that now dominate half the planet.  Not bad for a bunch of bronze age horsemen from the steppes.  I’d like to touch on especially some of the lesser known nations of Europe, the Georgians, the Lithuanians, the Letts, the Finns and others.  this will serve the dual purpose of allowing me to produce interesting and upbeat content and at the same time satisfy my curiosity about things I’ve always wanted to know.

But just to show I’m not an Indo-European chauvinist, (well actually I am), I’ll include information on the Basques.  These seem to be the descendants of the oldest inhabitants of Europe from a time before the Indo-European ancestors came on the scene.  Or at least before their languages began to dominate.  And I won’t neglect our neighbors to the east.  The river valley civilizations of the Near East were the source of agriculture that was the basis for organized human life on the planet.  So I’ll throw the Sumerians in just to show I’m a sport.  Do I have to include the Egyptians?  I guess I might.  Without them we wouldn’t have had those mummy movies.  Well, we’ll see.

And I mean to trudge on through the third season of Star Trek.  I’ve been dragging my feet because it is a terrible season.  But I’ve promised myself I’ll finish it.  As I’ve mentioned I intend to review Jackie Gleason’s classic 39 episodes of “The Honeymooners” series.  But I probably need to at least start into the Star Trek work to allow myself the reward of watching something fun like the Honeymooners.

The endless rain here in New England continues.  I’ve adapted to the annoying reality of it but I do hope that the second half of July returns to the normal hot dry summer I prefer.  Well, we’ll see.

So this may be a slow day.  I’ll write what the mood provides and enjoy a dinner out for once.  I’m bringing Camera Girl to our favorite Chinese restaurant and we’ll embrace the Orient for a change.