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Collected editorials

Who knows what the nose knows

It’s a family affair

The National Final Rodeo, that is. Deborah has two nephews in the steer wrestling category. Nephew Todd Suhn is in his middling thirties and is an old pro. He was in the finals for ten straight years running, and then took off last year to have his shoulder attended to. (Rodeo performers are a hardy lot but they do have their injuries.) He’s back again in fine form.

Nephew Jacob Rinehart is in his mid twenties. This is his first serious pass at the rodeo circuit; he’s done very well indeed. His mama and papa are very excited and well they should be. Getting into the finals is not the easiest thing in the world to do. Basically you have to be among the top 15 money winners in your category. (There are some picky rules about which events count.) How do you get to be a top money winner? The answer is simple; you drive your outfit (that’s you, your pickup, your horse trailer, and your horse) all over the west and compete in rodeos. That’s several days of driving for a few seconds in the arena – and in steer wrestling, the fewer, the better.

This steer wrestling … it’s a family affair.

Irony and Oil

As a species we are hooked on oil. It turns out that oil is one of those things like Meth, highly addictive and deadly to the user in the long run. And here we, addicts facing the prospect of going cold turkey in a decade or two. As a species we are going through the usual antics of addicts. There is denial; there is a lot of that. There is the pretense that we are going to solve our problem with restrained usage. That’s the Green answer – I can handle it. And there is the addicts usual cleverness in scrabbling around for a way to getting his fix. Which brings us to Jatropha.

Jatropha is a weed. Its smell and taste repel grazing animals. It grows well in arid regions and can be planted in places where food does not grow well. And … it has oil rich seeds.

India, China, Indonesia, and places in Africa are starting Jatropha plantations, looking forward to energy independence via Jatropha based biofuel. It’s a beautiful solution. It’s an addict’s solution – start poison farms to keep getting our fix.

Not quite all the news

News media in South Dakota tend to be on the parochial side. This is particularly striking if you follow sports at all. Judging from reportage on the TV stations there is only one major league baseball team of note, the Minneapolis/St.Paul Twins. Other teams exist solely for the purpose of playing the Twins. Similarly there is only one professional football team, called the Vikings. The real sports news happens in South Dakota, and consists of the results in local high school and college competitions. It’s all a little disconcerting to those of us used to a national perspective. Only a national perspective, of course. Other than the Olympics, Americans don’t much follow sporting events in other countries. In that regard, America is South Dakota written large.

There was an amusing example of this the other day. (Well, I was amused, and, after all, this is my editorial.) Our Lady Of The Large Black Dog has a subscription to a local newspaper called The Huron Daily Plainsman. As it happens, both the Red Sox and the Cubs clinched their division titles on the same day. The Daily Plainsman found this newsworthy, at least in part. The Red Sox made the news because they beat the Twins in the game in which they clinched the division title. The cubs, on the other hand … never heard of them.

Who knows what the nose knows

During this summer I had a spot on my nose that wouldn’t quite heal up. It wasn’t an open growth or anything like that – rather, it would swell up like an infected hair or an insect bite and it would itch and I would scratch it. Scratching it relieved the itch – scratching is nature’s lancing – and it would subside; however unlike a bite or other minor owwee it never quite healed up.

Deborah became worried about it and one day informed me that she had made an appointment with a dermatologist to have it looked at. Wise woman. In due course (Due Course is a small town in western Canada – however it has many suburbs, some of which are in South Dakota) the day of the appointment rolled around and the dermatologist inspected my nose. He told me that it looked like a basal cell carcinoma and took a biopsy. A few days later I got the results – yes, it was. The dermatologist set up an appointment with a ear, nose, and throat chap who would be just the chap for slicing and dicing my nose.

I made another trip to Due Course (this particular suburb of Due Course was in Aberdeen, SD) to meet the designated slicer and dicer. He gave me three options, (a) do nothing and watch the cancer get bigger, (b) undergo radiation treatments that would be lengthy with uncertain results, or (c) cut the damn thing out now. After 17 microseconds thought I opted for choice c. Then he gave me two further choices. Either he could slice and dice right then and there – a minor surgery – or he could make an appointment at a hospital where they would take samples as they sliced and diced until they were sure that they had it all.

The dice weren’t loaded on this choice – the immediate cut would probably get it all and it would save a lot of travelling. (This particular suburb of Due Course is two hours away.) And, of course, it might not. I opted for the immediate cut. Get it over with now, says I, and maybe it will all be okay. It turns out that I made the right decision for the wrong reason.

A few days later I got the news – the cancer had gone deeper that he dared cut. So back I went to suburban Due Course to confer on the next course of action. My doctor explained that there was a little gotcha that hadn’t quite come up in the previous discussion. Since it had gone so deep cutting it all out would leave a messy hole in my nose. The indicated course of action is to have the remaining slicing and dicing done by a plastic surgeon who do some reconstructive surgery as part of the process.

As I say, I probably did the right thing for the wrong reason – the local hospital in the local suburb of Due Course doesn’t have a resident plastic surgeon. If I had gone the hospital route I might have ended up with a messy hole in my head. Instead, I now have an appointment with a plastic surgeon in yet another suburb of Due Course, this one yclept Sioux Falls. We shall report on the results of this trip next month.

As you might imagine, people have not been remiss about suggesting that since I am going to see a plastic surgeon anyway I might as well get the rest of the job done. Mmmmph says I.

Chez Harter

Progress continues on the remodeling. The kitchen is more or less complete. I’ve put up a fancy backsplash and open shelving rather than upper cabinets. I’ve added two pictures for those who doubt that I would ever actually complete any of the many projects I have going on. The wall shelving units and the spice rack are all solid oak (not oak veneer on particle board) and were built and stained by yours truly.

Then there is the matter of the hole in the wall. Quite some time ago, in the spring of 2006, I tore out the old kitchen. Back in the last century when the house was built there was a hole in the half wall. It was a respectable hole, trimmed with trim wood, that served some function or another. I tore off the trim board and ran wiring through the hole – like many houses of its vintage, Chez Harter had a deplorable deficiency of wiring. Deborah asked what I was going to do with the now rather messy hole in the wall. I replied rather casually that I would patch in some wall board on each side – after all, it was a simple job. And so it was. Granted I didn’t get around to it until September of this year, but the hole wasn’t going anywhere and I had other things to do. Deborah never quite understood this simple reasoning.

September also saw the construction of a wall. I had torn out the closet in the bedroom for no better reason than it was horrid. There was a large hole in the cement slab that I really felt ought to be filled. The existing wall was broken in places and it had a gap due to a vent pipe; the gap had been papered over with wall paper that was peeling. The besides of which it had a lot of shelving that was less than functional. As you can see, it had to go.

For a while my bedroom was blessed with a collection of naked studs where a wall used to be. (This being a family website, it should be understood that the naked studs were lumber and not what you were thinking.) In due course I built meself a wall using the same techniques that I see on HGTV, modulo various minor construction errors. Construction of the closet continues apace. (I’m not clear on which creature’s paces go into ‘apace’, but I opine that tortoise paces should do quite nicely.)

Those sexy phone talkers

I rather fancy that some of my readers are the sorts of people who call those late night phone numbers and get in a bit of phone sex chat. Of course that wouldn’t be you, dear reader. I am sure that you are the most respectable of people who would never, ever do such a thing. Still there might be some other reader who is less than straight arrow.

Have you ever wondered what those ladies who do the phone sex bit actually look like? The come on ads show you giggling young bikini clad misses flashing come on smiles, but we all know that the real ladies on the other end aren’t quite so luscious. So what do they look like? As it happens, I learned the truth the other day.

Our Lady of the Large Black Dog and I were having lunch (Lunch was a bowl of chicken noodle soup – she was treating a cold.) She was surfing the TV when she came across Judge Mathis, who is the star of one of those TV day court programs. We watched one of his cases with open jaws and many giggles. An older couple were suing each other. The gentleman seemed to be suffering from borderline Alzheimers. The lady, ah, the lady. She was a phone sex chat lady. She gave a demo – “I’m so horny I don’t what to do with myself” – in a very convincing voice. She also mentioned that she was good at background noises. The judge, wise man that he was, said that he didn’t want to hear them.

So what do phone sex chat ladies look like? This one was sixtyish, a bit on the scrawny side, and had a huge mass of frizzy red hair on the top of her head. I dunno for sure but I suspect she wouldn’t have done a bikini justice. Now you know.

Falling behind

Lately I have been falling behind on getting the website out. Publication dates slip a few days, and I have been slow about answering letters. What can I say. I have a multitude of projects going on. I keep up with the usenet groups that I follow, I have various bits of software that I am writing and documenting, I have various literary projects that bubble up now and then, I lay tile and build walls, I watch a bit of TV, milady and I wine and dine, etc. I promise to do better in the future. (Fulfilling that promise is yet another project.)

My mother and my sisters had a thing about white rabbits. I never quite understood what it was all about. My impression is that women adopt a totem animal that they can use as a decorating theme, but that’s just a guess. Who really knows why they do these things. Be that as it may, sometimes I feel like that white rabbit, running around muttering, “I’m late, I’m late.”

This page was last updated October 2, 2007.

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Collected editorials