Monday, May 22, 2017

It could be a 'manning' Monday

Sailors man the rigging on a formal occasion.
     I wrote this tonight to explain something to a friend who is facing the first day of the work week and then I decided it might be fun reading for others as well.
     I am up way late, a little wine and a lot of music and I thought I would tell you the story about manning the rigging. Several years ago I had the opportunity to spend a week on a boat with the head of British Petroleum’s shipping worldwide. Ha, now that I write that it sounds like Faber shipping world wide (If you have read any of the Bloody Jack books, you will get that reference). Anyway he told this story one night. He grew up an orphan in London but through some twists of fate he ended up in a maritime school that trained most of the great British sailors through the years, By his last year there, he had advanced to captain of the corps of cadets. 
     This coincided with the year Queen Elizabeth was crowned. After the coronation (which incidentally was one of the first things I ever saw on television) she took a trip around the world on the royal yacht Britannia. As the boat was approaching London on its return, the head of the school thought it would honor the queen properly if the corps of cadets manned the rigging on the tall ship the school used for training and at the time was berthed along the Thames River. 
     The picture shows a formal “manning”  of the rigging with the sailors standing on the spars. 
     Anyway, as captain of the corps this man had to go to the top of the mainmast, the highest point on the ship. Notice in the picture no one is standing at the absolute top of the mainmast.
      So the queen’s yacht is coming up the Thames and the cadets manned the rigging with the future head of BP shipping worldwide at the top of the mainmast, clinging to the tallest part of the ship with his knees. Unknown to the cadets, someone had the bright idea to fire a Beaufort gun as the queen approached. I can’t find a picture of one, but it looks like an old time cannon but with a really short barrel. It was made for close combat between sailing ships, firing a canon ball upward to come down from an arc onto a deck of an enemy ship close by.
     So the cadets are all set, the Britannia is approaching and someone fired the gun.
     Then the captain of the corps of cadets said from his perspective the ship heeled over so far the ends of the yardarms on one side hit the dock. Then it rolled way out over the water, all the time raining cadets out of the rigging onto the deck, onto the dock and then into the water with each roll back and forth. He said his knees were white from clinging to the top of the mainmast but he managed to hold on until the vessel settled down and the queen had passed by.
     I have to tell you our eyes were wet with tears from laughing so hard at hearing him describe this scene of total chaos at a most ceremonial moment. I am giggling now envisioning it. I still find manning the rigging majestic and hilarious at the same time.
    Just think on this Monday: Those guys fell out of the rigging into the water and onto the dock in front of the Queen of England! How awful could your Monday be?

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Taking it outdoors

Hardening cart: I can drive it around to keep plants in the sunlight all day.
The Solo cup garden is outgrowing the indoor space so outdoors we go. First day of hardening today with the sun shining and a healthy breeze blowing
     Some of the corn plants have grown past two feet and buds adorned the tips of stems on the zucchini. Strange height to potato plants started indoors and today I planted one of the four-by-fours with other seed potatoes.
     Sunflowers grown from the same seeds I feed the birds have reached above a foot, too.
     Meanwhile two new specimens of a fragrant type geranium are hardening near the doorway in an effort to keep the mosquitoes away if possible. One already has buds on it. The lilac
Solo cup garden indoors.
does too. It usually greens up around the same time as Green Day which happened some time last week.
     The ground temperature has been higher than 50 for more than a week now and it's getting close enough to Memorial Day, if the weather holds I might not wait for the weekend and plant maybe Wednesday or so.
     It's not the most ambitious garden I've tried, mostly potatoes and zucchini but it has some interesting experiments too, including the corn and sunflowers grown from bird seed.
New garden edging. Funny story about those timbers. Three Lowe's employees stood about 20 feet away watching me load nine of those timbers onto a cart by myself. This was after one came by and stood there watching me try to wrestle them around a fork lift that was blocking the pile and never thought to move it until I asked him to. I let the three slackers know I wasn't too happy with them. Loaded the truck by myself too. I'm a bad man! lol

In response to that last sentence in the caption, a friend sent me this link to the song, "I'm a bad man"

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The noose is slowly tightening

A whole lot of us have almost been something of an old-time lynch mob, yelling for impeachment, criticizing the president's every move, not that it's not deserved, doing anything we can to raise the flag to get rid of the criminal. Perhaps at this point it is time to take a step back and let the drama play out.
     Last night (May 15) Rachel Maddow posted a graphic showing nine separate investigations under way looking into the serious charges that have come up regarding the administration. A couple of them are maybes at this point but that leaves at least seven active investigations going on at this moment.
     Legal investigations take time. Rushing to judgment at this point before they are complete could have a detrimental effect on the outcome most of us want. The process needs to be methodical, unemotional, nailing down every eventuality because the danger exists if any opening is left, Trump could walk through it and remain in office.
To remove a president is going to take, if you will forgive a cliche (or two or three), every i dotted, every t crossed, no stone left unturned. Before any legal charges are leveled the case for removal must be absolutely solid and that is going to take some time.
     Of course that interim is going to leave the door open for that serious mistake we think this man is capable of, where one of his tantrums ends with a big red button. We can only hope if it gets there, calmer heads will prevail.
     The point is let's not do things in a rush that could leave an opening. Let's take it through due process with methodical certitude. Leave no way out. Chances are as with Nixon the noose will tighten enough during the investigations with their inevitable revelations that the man will see no way out and quit before he ends up in court, impeached before the Senate, and/or sent to prison.
     It doesn't end with him, either. There is Pence who is almost as dangerous, Republican leadership in Congress and all the work to undo the damage already done. Also we have to keep pressure on the investigators; make sure they are doing their jobs and the efforts progress at a reasonable pace.
    The press has awakened and is doing its job now and as former President Carter pointed out the other day: In every instance where the press and government have come into conflict, the press has been right. Let's hope that continues, too.
     Trump is too much of a threat to our country and our very way of life to be allowed to escape and somehow remain in office.

     Of course there's always another point of view. This from my daughter on Twitter:

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Snakes on the tundra

There's some fun going on in Alaska tonight. It started this way.

Then someone, perhaps inspired by the Bronx Zoo's Cobra went on Twitter with the Meadow Lakes Python.

Friday, April 28, 2017

An experimental garden

How long was it going to take before garden talk showed up this spring? Well, this long. Seeds went into Solo cups Sunday and Monday and already are sprouting.
     Rather than plant the same old stuff this year there are a couple of experiments in the works. First,
These are sprouts from sunflower seeds bought as bird feed over the winter.
last summer a sunflower sprouted in a place I hadn't planted nor where an errant seed from the plantings could have landed. Nevertheless the plant grew to a little more than two feet tall and flowered. A friend suggested an errant seed but none that I could think of could have reached that particular place. This spring raking up the leavings of the winter I found the answer. The birds had left numerous sunflower seeds on the ground from spillage off the feeders. Could I have missed one of those with the rake and it sprouted? I brought it up as a question and a friend said she often sees sunflowers sprout under her feeders. So, I thought, why not plant a few to see what happens.
     Sure enough after about four days little sunflowers are sprouting in my Solo cup ranch. We'll see how they do over the summer.
Corn sprouts – four days, only 54 to go.
     Meanwhile after the success with sunflowers last year I thought I would experiment with the planting spot rather than the plants. No sunflowers this year except the ones growing from bird feed. Instead I started some corn last Monday. I picked two varieties that have shorter growing seasons, one is 60 days and the other 70, and I will put them in the spot that gets the most sunlight, where the sunflowers were last year and again, we'll see what they do.
     Along with those I have started the usual selection of favorites, zucchini, potatoes, lettuce and a few onions. It will all make a smaller garden this year and I hope a more productive one. I did a little research over the winter and I'm adding some fertilizer and some fertilized soil around the place and fixing the boxes so they drain better, raking and loosening the soil deeper than I did last year and drilling some drainage holes near the bottoms of the planks in the raised spots.
     I might invest in a few flowered plants at the store later. Looking forward to one of those conglomerations of potatoes, zucchini and red peppers coming out of the oven in the future. Some day no matter what my doctor says I might melt some cheese over it. Maybe take two of those cholesterol pills that day and give them something to do. So it goes, watch this space for updates.

Interesting quotations

"In the final analysis your life is only as good as the background music you dance to." – that was me

"Whether you think that you can or you think you can't, you are right." – Henry Ford

"You want to feel alive until the day you croak" – Frank Gallagher Shameless

"Smooth is good but sailing takes a brisk wind" – me

"I'm a drinker with writing problems." ~ Brendan Behan

"Religious Freedom is not about stopping persecution; it’s about being the one who gets to do it. Glory!" – Mrs. Betty Bowers, America's best Christian

It doesn't matter what you write, it only matters that you write.

"Give someone a book and they'll read all day. Teach someone to write a book and they'll spend a lifetime mired in paralyzing self doubt." – internet meme

"It's been a long time since I heard my backbone crack – Chuck Berry

“Don’t think you’re on the right road just because it’s a well-beaten path.” – JD

"I was the only person up on the hill with both racing numbers and a handicapped placard." – Kitty Delorey Fleischman, a grandmother who occasionally still races her Porsche in hill climbs.

Like most writers, I feel like a reprobate who does not deserve to live on any day that I do not write, but I also feel that four or five hours is enough to earn my stay on the planet for one more day. – anon

"Religion was invented when the first con man met the first fool." – Mark Twain

Shit happens; you just come up with a different plan. – Kitty

Your body is not a temple. It's an amusement park. – Anthony Bourdain

Never too late for a happy childhood – Berkley Breathed

A real writer doesn't just want to write, a real writer has to write. – Internet meme

"It was like the aftermath of an orgasm with the wrong partner" – David Lagercrants, "The Girl in the Spider's Web"

The non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

We never comprehend how heavy the things are we insist on carrying until we set them down. jd

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio talk show host

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

Best headlines ever

Church Mutual Insurance won't cover Church's flood damage because it's 'an act of God'

Homicide victims rarely talk to police

Meerkat Expert Attacked Monkey Handler Over Love Affair With Llama Keeper

GOP congressman opposes gun control because gay marriage leads to bestiality

Owner of killer bear chokes to death on sex toy

Support for legalizing pot hits all-time high

Give me all your money or my penguin will explode

How zombie worms have sex in whale bones

Crocodile steals zoo worker's lawn mower

Woman shot by oven while trying to cook waffles

Nude beach blowjob jet ski fight leads to wife's death

Woman stabs husband with squirrel for not buying beer Christmas Eve