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Amazing Grace




If you can't make it to Mars, try North Dakota

Apparently they are testing out Mars space suits in the North Dakota badlands. According to Pablo de Leon, the project's manager, "It's actually going much better than we expected. This terrain, it's probably very similar to some of the places on Mars."

That's good to know. If I can't make it into space I can always go to North Dakota.

Rock of the ages, nearer to me

Certain good citizens of Highmore have seen fit to lay out $5000 for a large potato shaped rock. This rock is at the corner of SD highways 14 and 47; it bears the inscription "Welcome to Highmore" or some such message. It is visible if one is driving past Highmore on SD 14, or if one is leaving Highmore on SD 47. If you happen to be in the vicinity of Highmore do check it out.

Oddly enough the rock is not within the city limits; instead it is in the corner of a lot containing farm machinery, said lot being of the opposite side of the highway from Highmore. I wonder if anyone considered the possibility that passersby will erroneously assume that Highmore is the name of the equipment dealer.

I'm not much on the finances of rocks, but five grand seems a bit steep for a rock. After all, there is quite an adequate supply of rocks (some of them quite good sized) in the local pastures. (The rocks were left there by glaciers - ice ages are so untidy.) It is true that rock can be expensive; I just laid out three grand for a granite counter top. I didn't get nearly as much rock for my counter top as the Highmore welcomers got for their welcome sign, but after all my rock was machined to exacting tolerances and polished to a high gloss. The Highmore welcome rock is strictly au naturel. Maybe it's art. That would account for it. Art is always worth what you pay for it.

Red, White, and Blue

Recently my letter column seems to have become infected with politics. This is natural enough, I suppose. For many years I lived in Massachusetts, perhaps the most liberal [1] of states, the very essence of Blue. Currently I am residing in South Dakota, one of the more conservative states, definitely very red. In consequence I have friends and acquaintances from both sides of the fence who read and comment upon the contents of my humble whatchamaycallit [2].

Apparently the blues (so called because they were blue about the 2000 election) feel that the reds (so called because blue was taken) are right-wing, arrogant, and clueless, whereas the reds think that the blues are left-wing, arrogant, and clueless. It wouldn't be cool (though very tempting) to agree with both that they are right.

Many of our good citizens (and many of the not so good citizens) are neither blues nor reds. Some are so because they totally ideological confused, some are so because their views are squarely in the middle, and some just don't give a damn. Since they are citizens of the land of the red, white, and blue they must be white. (This is a political color rather than a race color - in Amerika one can be both black and white.)

Whites are sort of invisible in the political landscape. Blues tend to think that anyone who isn't a blue must be a red and vice versa. This is not as crazy as it sounds; if you are a true blue then anyone who isn't with you impedes your cause. Similarly, a true red sees everyone who isn't red as being part of the problem.

One of the oddities of Amerikan politics is that the blue states send more money to the Citadel of the Great Satan (aka Washington DC) than they receive in spoils whereas the red states get more back than they send in, this despite the fact that blue rhetoric lauds the government sugar tit whereas red rhetoric is for limited government spending. Politics may well be about crass interest but apparently not class interest.

And that's enough about politics, thank you.


Note 1: [Omega] The term, "liberal", has been utterly debased in American political discourse. A friend of mine from Germany insists that there is no Left in America, at least not by the standards of the continent. I tend to use the term "progressive" myself, though it does have a musty odor of aging activists. Perhaps one should settle for blue and red.

Note 2: Whether this site is a webzine, an ezine, a blog, or perhaps merely a blot on the electronic landscape has been the subject of much discussion in the letter column. Well, okay, someone wrote a letter about it and I ran (ranted if you prefer) with it.

Note omega: These are not footnotes. If they were footnotes they would be at the bottom (the foot) of the page. Rather, being in the middle of the page, they are belly notes.

Praying

If you must pray, be very careful about what god you pray to. Clara Jean Brown of Daphne, Alabama was standing in her kitchen praying when she was hit by lightning. From the article:

But while she prayed, lightning suddenly exploded, blowing through the linoleum and leaving a blackened area on the concrete. Brown wound up on the floor, dazed and disoriented by the blast but otherwise uninjured.

She said 'Amen' and the room was engulfed in a huge ball of fire. The 65-year-old Brown said she is blessed to be alive.

I don't know what kind of god she was praying to, but she might rethink that bit about blessings.

The house apace

The renovation of the house continues apace, albeit at a slow pace. The granite counter top has arrived and has been installed. Various ladies (and even gentlemen) have inspected it and pronounced it beautiful. I'm still working on the main living area. There are a few odds and ends of baseboards to be added. I still need to build the kitchen's open shelves.

Next: Tiling the bedroom hall and the small bedroom.

The Great Paving

Our Lady of the Large Black Dog has (or, rather, had) a pseudo-driveway out in front of her house. I say "pseudo" because it wasn't much of a driveway, being a poorly graveled area where one could park a car just off the street. It occurred to her that it would be nice if it were paved with Holland pavers. (Holland pravers are 2" by 4" by 8" bricks without any holes. I have no idea why they are called Holland pavers - it seems like a good topic for speculation.)

South Dakota being what it is, you don't just drive over to your local building supplies supercenter (five minutes away by car) and have them deliver a load of pavers. No, what you do (or at least what we did) is borrow her father's pickup, drive 120 miles to Aberdeen SD where there is a building supplies supercenter yclept Menards, load two tons of pavers (that's six hundred odd of the buggers) in the pickup, drive back 120 miles, and unload said two tons of pavers by hand onto the sidewalk.

A local workman scraped out the area to be paved with his bobcat, laid in a load of sand, and leveled and graded it, more or less. Deborah and I then laid pavers on the sand. It all looked very pretty (she had purchased them in different colors, tan, green, and a mottled red and black.) There was, however, a small problem. We had seriously underestimated the number of pavers needed. (Why are you not surprised?)

Again we borrowed the papa's pickup, again we drove 120 miles to the building supplies supercenter, again we loaded pavers, again we drove back 120 miles, and again we unloaded pavers. This time it was 450 of them, weighing a mere 2700 pounds. This time she got another lot of tan ones and green ones. It seems that they were out of red/black ones so she got a half lot of red ones and a half lot of charcoal ones.

She and I, by the way, did most of the loading. The hard working young men in the back lot apparently had a lot of other work to do. As so often in American merchandising, the customer came last.

The new pavement is very colorful. We had a lot of fun weaving patterns into it. Deb's son says that it looks like something from a Pueblo. Works for me - we all need a bit of art in our lives.

The Chili Willies

For some reason in May 4000 people wanted to read about the great Chili contest. I don't know why, though I suspect that it is another instance of parents not knowing what their children are up to on the internet. In any case the page has been exiled to Annex D, the home of overly popular pages.


This page was last updated June 1, 2006.

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