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Collected editorials

Much ado about something

The Big Do

June (my mother) is responsible for the delay in the June (the month) edition. Three years ago we sold the ranch land to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. These worthy gentlepersons deemed the land to be a truly wondrous place for producing waterfowl. It is now and forever (or if not quite forever, at least for the foreseeable future) The June Harter Waterfowl Production Area, some 1440 acres of native prairie strewn with dams, creek beds, and water holes.

They assured with me with honeyed soothing words that my mother would be honored with a ceremonial dedication of the lands that her name graces. They were not, perhaps, as forthcoming as they might have been as to when this event would happen. This is not surprising. The mills of the government, much like those of the gods, grind slowly but they grind exceedingly fine. I am not certain as to the fineness of the mills of the government, but I have great confidence in their slowness.

Some time ago, quite some time ago, I enquired of the worthy gentlepersons when this happy event would occur. Apparently spring of last year would have been rushing things. The fall of last year was briefly under consideration; however it was concluded that 2004 was not likely to be the one year in forty in which the fall prairie wasn't brown with drought. It was settled, therefore, that the event should happen in the spring of 2005.

Early this year in February or so, we had conferences as to what should be done and who should do it. We settled on a day in late May or early June. (There is no point in being precise about such things until one gets closer to the time when it matters.) The faroffness of the date was important. Neither the government nor the Harters had any expectation or desire of moving quickly.

As part of this madness I volunteered to write the brochure for the event. This was unwise on my part, particularly since I felt that it should be done "right". My thought was that it should have some family history, some history of the ranch, some nattering about geology and birds, a biography of my mother, good words about the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and some pictures. Everyone else, being both saner and brighter than I, was quite happy to let me compose this little document.

I, however, had a secret weapon. I had in mind those immortal words in mind, "Plagarize! Don't evade your eyes. Plagarize. But please to call it research." My mother had created a family history brochure about her ancestors. My aunt on my father's side had written an article about the history of the ranch and my father's family. The internet provided me material about geology and ecology. I reprinted one of my own poems. The material from my mother's memorial was still available. Our Lady of the Large Black Dog graced me with a piquant incident involving my mother and Halifax. I packaged the pieces together and lubricated it with sundry words of my own. I passed the entirety to my sister Lois who, as all good editors do, moved things around, corrected infelicities, and, having wielded the cleaver, gracefully insisted that it was all my mine.

The officials of the US Fish & Wildlife Service, not being nearly as dilatory or inefficient as I have represented them as being, organized things with great expedition and competence, and a dedication ceremony was held in the remote prairie on the morning of June 2, 2005. Various Harters and Hansons (my mother was a Hanson) travelled from near and far to appear. The government provided a number of people who spoke on what a good thing it was to preserve the prairie and provide a home for birds and plants who were here a long time before we were, and who, if we don't screw things up too badly, will be here a long time after we are gone. Quite a number of locals appeared, attracted by the promise of free cake and beverages, by curiosity, and, we may hope, by the chance of participating in something worthwhile. People spoke, these being principally representatives of the government, and my sisters and I. We then unveiled the rock, this being a large rock with a plaque upon it that testified to the great merit of my mother who, directly and indirectly, was responsible for the day, the event, and the preservation of a patch of native prairie.

Another of my sisters, one Nanci Adams, had had the happy thought that I should host a luncheon after the dedication. (A happy thought for her, that is, since her part in the luncheon involved no effort other than the thought that I should host it.) This thought was endorsed by a multitude, including Our Lady of the Large Black Dog, who thought it would be an excellent excuse for an orgy of house cleaning. No doubt she was right, although I am firmly of the opinion that one can overdo that sort of thing. I have not had any success in convincing her of the soundness of my opinion but I have great hopes of persuading her to my view if, not in this century, then certainly in the next.

It is this orgy of cleaning (and the preparations for the luncheon) that consumed all of the time that ordinarily would have been devoted to preparing the June issue. That, and the ice cream. I had the thought that it would be nice to have home made ice cream. Ordinary ice cream is a pallid sort of thing. This was the real thing, made with whole milk, large amounts of heavy cream, eggs, sugar (no artificial sweeteners), and real vanilla. When I say real vanilla, I don't mean no imitation vanilla extract; I am talking about a vanilla bean (actually part of one) ground with mortar and pestal. The difference is amazing. The texture of real ice cream is richer and smoother than the commercial filler laden product. Real vanilla is intense.

In short the luncheon was a happy event. All and sundry consumed quantities of broasted chicken, potato salad, water melon, iced tea, and the fabled ice cream. The irises were in bloom, the lawns were green and mowed, and the house was spic and span. It was all quite pleasant. I plan upon doing it all again next century.

Birthdays and such

I suppose I should point out since I was born on June 29, 1935, I will have one of those round number birthdays this month. I forbear to mention which one but I am confident that my readers can do the requisite arithmetic. I will take it kindly if they do not mention the results of their calculations out loud. I don't seem that old to myself, but, then, none of us do. I am unreliably informed by others that I neither look nor act my chronological age. It may be so, though I rather fancy that such judgements are a matter of expectations than one of chronology.

In such occasions it is traditional to make observations upon the passage of time and to share wisdom with the young. I am sure I have some wisdom about somewhere to share. Consider it shared. If you have questions about said wisdom consider them answered.

Clodizens of a galaxy far, far away

The movie is out and doing very well, thank you. I suppose there is no need for my comments - there is a host of fans who will dissect the movie and the book in intense detail. I have written a little article entitled Sith Love that explains some of the fine points. As an emmendation I will mention the asexual nature of these force users. The Jedi are not allowed love and lovers, and the Sith are incapable of it. Anakin fails as a Jedi because he takes a wife; he only makes it as a Sith when he kills his wife. Comments about the asexual nature of star wars fans are quite unnecessary.

One of the remarkable things about the saga is the stupidity of the Jedi. Frex, they accept the clones (the Sith trojan horse) with out question. They could have rescued Anakin's mother out of slavery without difficulty; they didn't. Anakin goes to Yoda for help; he gets a bunch of fatuous platitudes. They know from the beginning that Anakin is dangerous; they do nothing of consequence to defuse that danger. Etc.

As to the movie I would have preferred less slam bang action (though the scenes in Hell were quite fine) and a greater focus on Anakin's drift to the dark side. That's just me, though. One can't argue with success.

The source of obesity

Are American sneakers--not American fast food--actually responsible for the obesity epidemic? It may seem like a laughable notion at first; however, not even the best nutritionists, working hard over the last century, have successfully identified a diet that permanently controls morbid obesity. Evidently, something else, besides food, is hindering the ability of overweight Americans to lose excess weight. Well, obesity is extremely rare in Japan, and the Japanese practice the custom of removing their shoes upon entering a home, office, or restaurant, replacing them with more-comfortable slippers, socks, or simply bare feet. Yet in the United States, where obesity is visibly widespread, shoes are worn constantly. Indeed, footwear appears to be a cause of disease in humans.

Now you know.

This page was last updated June 4, 2005.
It was reformatted and moved October 16, 2006

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Collected editorials