Tag Archives: video

In response to “From Vimeo: Human + Ice Skates = the Perfect Camera Dolly”

My daughter, the one in the middle (in age) of my group of three daughters lives, loves, laughs, labors and languishes in Northern Virginia, and plagues her father daily to find out where he is and what he’s doing and why he’s doing it, and if I’m not doing anything she wants to know why I’m not doing something.

She sent me this video in a posting on her blog. Click here for her original blog post. The video is well-worth watching, particularly because of the beautiful music. Turn up the sound, lean back and relax and enjoy the music but don’t fall asleep—you’ll miss the ending and that’s the best part.

Following the video you can enjoy the privilege of reading my comment on her posting. As of the moment, mine is the only comment. Her adventure on the ice should have attracted legions of viewers and garnered loads of comments. My comment should have attracted the same legions and comments. It has not, however, so I’m adding the comment verbatim to this post. The answer to your question is yes—WordPress will allow you to comment on comments as well as on the post, but be nice!

My comment follows, up from the Stygian darkness, away from the River Styx and up to the bright light of day.

A nice video and great sound, especially at the end when the music reached a stirring crescendo—really made me want to strap on some skates. I’m a semi-expert (read harf-arsed) and I have held on to a pair of skates from my early years. However, I have lost that little key one uses to tighten the clamps that fit on the soles of one’s shoes to hold the skates on. Also I’m unsure whether my skates would work on today’s sneakers and besides, one wheel is missing—I might manage to stay upright with just three wheels on one skate by putting most of my weight on the four-wheel skate but without that key I’m out of luck.

Speaking of traversing—defined as traveling or crossing over—and your thoughts of staying on the snowmobile rather than getting out on the ice. Seems to me that the weight of the snowmobile teamed with the latent heat of the snowmobile’s engine would increase the possibility of the ice cracking underneath. Sooooo, given that scenario, since you did venture out onto the ice, however slowly, you were probably smart to vacate the vehicle, but who knows, right?

On further reflection, the latent heat from the engine combined with your weight with you all bundled up from the cold, plus the weight of whatever equipment remained on the snowmobile, could have caused the ice to crack, so possibly by stepping out onto the ice you saved your own life and in certain societies, maybe not Montana but in certain other locales, you would have been obligated to take care of yourself for the rest of your life. It’s really neat how some things work out, ain’t it!

I recently saw a cartoon that showed a guy ice fishing and he was having good luck, had a big mound of different sized ice cubes beside him that he had caught.

That’s my comment and I’m sticking to it.

Oh, just one other thing—about that stirring crescendo—it won’t startle you and interrupt your slumber. it remains soothing throughout.

Oops, just one more correction: I said I had kept a pair of the clamp-on roller skates, but that I had lost the key and one wheel was missing. That was a great big whopper. I intended it to perhaps elicit a chuckle from the viewer, perhaps not a chortle but at least a chuckle. Hey, I’ll settle for a slight smile.

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Posted by on November 21, 2012 in Humor


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Frog legs, pocket knives & hackberry tea

This YouTube video is in no way related to the primary subject of this post, namely the treatment of raw sewage to recapture the 99.9% of raw sewage that is water and make it potable. I intend to end this post with the same video. I am presenting it here to ensure that my legions of followers have the opportunity to view it. If you view the video at this point and are so turned off by it that you don’t read the posting, it’s your loss—you’ll miss a highly educational essay—timely, well constructed and presented, and I say that with all sincerity aside. I know, I know, everyone always reads my posts all the way to the bottom, but just in case . . .

This morning while watching a cable show—MSNBC—I learned that at sometime in the future much of our drinking water will consist of treated sewage. That knowledge as defined by Wikipedia rests uneasy on one’s gustatory palate:

Sewage is water-carried wastes, in either solution or suspension that is intended to flow away from a community. Also known as waste water flows, sewage is the used water supply of the community. It is more than 99.9% pure water and is characterized by its volume or rate of flow, its physical condition, its chemical constituents and the bacteriological organisms that it contains. Depending on its origin, waste water can be classed as sanitary, commercial, industrial, agricultural or surface runoff.

The spent water from residences and institutions carrying body wastes, washing water, food preparation wastes, laundry wastes and other waste products of normal living is classed as either domestic or sanitary sewage.

The purpose of this post is an attempt to allay the fears of those that may be taken aback when told that the water they drink in the future will be sewage, coming direct to them as treated sewage from some remote treatment plant that has taken the action necessary to eliminate contaminants from raw sewage and now wants people to believe that the water is pure and potable—drinkable.

I know that’s a stretch, given the fact that the so-called sanitary sewage includes body wastes donated—love that term donated—by the community. However, I have personal knowledge that the decontaminated liquid may be consumed without fear of the consumer becoming contaminated—how that knowledge was gained is the purpose of this post.

As a young boy growing up between the ages of six and nine years I lived near a flow of treated sewage moving away from the city’s treatment plant via an open concrete-floored ditch—locals called it the Big Ditch—idling along on its way to Luxapalila Creek, a stream that joins Mississippi’s Tombigbee River, a stream that converges with the Alabama River to form the Mobile River that in turn empties into Mobile bay on the Gulf of Mexico—take that, Mobile!

Purely as an aside, the Indian word Luxapalila is said to translate into English as floating turtles. Considering the effluvial characteristics of human waste materials entering the stream, perhaps the first syllable of turtles, accidentally but aptly, describes the water and its contents—how’s that for coincidence!

But I digress—back to the Big Ditch, its contents and the marvelous flora and fauna that thrived—-or throve, take your pick—when I was a boy. The ditch may well be covered by now, or perhaps its contents have been diverted elsewhere. Many years have passed since I was treated—so to speak—to a life in that area and that era. Perhaps the Big Ditch is still fulfilling its destiny as a playground for the enjoyment of today’s children, activities in dialectical opposition to their parent’s wishes.

On more than one occasion I and one or more of my boyhood friends—always boys, although girls would have been welcomed and we would have been delighted by their company, but none accepted our invitations—dined on the banks of the Big Ditch, feasting on fried frog legs and hack-berry tea, a simple meal easily prepared. From our respective homes we brought a small frying pan, a small pot for boiling water, a block of pure lard, our pocket knives, a bit of corn meal, a pinch of salt, a few matches and our appetites to the Big Ditch, a Shangri-la for giant green bullfrogs easily rounded up by a couple of hungry boys.

We built a small fire and boiled water for our tea—yes, we used the nearest available source of water, that which flowed along the bottom of the Big Ditch. When the water was boiling we dumped in handfuls of hackberries gathered from the proliferation of hack-berry trees that thrived on the banks of the ditch.

The hack-berry tea was set aside to cool, and we heated the pure lard in the frying pan. After separating the legs of several frogs from their bodies we skinned the legs, rolled them in the corn meal, placed them in the frying pan and turned them until brown.

Don’t laugh—our culinary talents and our gustatory senses  at our age were underdeveloped and unrefined, and we had minimum expectations that the meal would equal those served in fancy French restaurants specializing in fried frog legs and offering fine wines to accompany the meal—cuisses et vin de grenouille frits—the French refer to the legs of frogs as thighs instead of legs. The use of the word thighs is probably considered a sexual reference by the French, intended to affect the mood of a dinner companion, whether male or female. A Frenchman might say, Mon cher, j’aime le goût des cuisses, delivered softly and translated as My dear, I love the taste of thighs—his after-dinner delights would be guaranteed—dessert, so to speak.

So there you have it—treated sewage can be safely ingested, digested and further processed by humans without fear of damage to their bodies or their life expectancy. My body shows no perceptible damage from the meals of cuisses et vin de grenouille frits, and I am just a hop, skip and a jump away from successfully completing eight decades of living life to its fullest—whether because of the frog legs or in spite of the frog legs is unknown. However, also unknown is the collective fates of my various boyhood companions. Some of them or all of them by this time may have already exchanged their earthly realm for one or the other of our two alternatives.

I must reluctantly admit that the others—some of them, none of them or all of them—may have already succumbed to the ravages of various diseases that were directly attributed to those meals of cuisses et vin de grenouille frits, and I do not recommend such meals to today’s boys, at least not meals garnered from the same source or similar sources—nope, I would neither recommend it nor suggest it.

I am of the opinion that today’s youth, although physically larger, stronger and enjoying greater longevity and enhanced motor skills, are not significantly more intelligent—in fact many, perhaps most, are somewhat lacking in basic subjects as demonstrated by accumulated grades given on an incredible numbers of tests administered by our schools. There are so many unknowns that I hesitate to imply that meals such as we prepared in the Big Ditch increases longevity, but I will postulate that such meals may promote a higher level of intelligence.

Today’s youth lag behind in the three Rs—reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmatic and their skills in communication skills are deplorable—they are deficient both in receiving and transmitting the spoken word, obviously derelict in vocal expression and auditory reception. I feel that my detailing just one of my eating habits as a boy proves, at least in some degree, that consumption of treated sewage water will not be harmful to us and our neighbors, and that proof has been beautifully presented to my viewers. That’s why I was motivated to make this posting and I feel that I have made my point—my efforts were successful and productive for society.

I apologize for diverting my attention to other problems facing our society and our nation—I couldn’t help it—it’s either in my nature or it could possibly be the result of my being distracted by a cantankerous keyboard.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Postscript: The fact that I frequently watch MSNBC does not mean that I like MSNBC. I frequently tune in to get the side of the news and opinions that are presented by other, more reliable and more truthful cable entities. I do not  dislike MSNBC—I enjoy its graphics and its presentations of news that are not permeated with and perforated by personal political presentations, situations that are far less frequent than presentations that are afflicted—tainted, so to speak—well, let’s face it—filled with and distorted by such taints and afflictions. Tune in to MSNBC on any weekday evening and listen to the talking heads in its evening lineup—you’ll be both attracted and reviled by their vituperative views on subjects ranging from A to Z—from armadillos to zebras–but particularly on Cs and Rs—Conservatives and Republicans.

One more postscript: Having clicked on the center of the above YouTube video, you have read the notice that someone, somewhere and somehow decided that the videos violated copyright, and it is stated that “the YouTube account associated with this video has been terminated due to multiple third-party notifications of copyright infringement from claimants including Real Clear Politics” . . .

Obviously when I showed the video and in effect compared it with the effluvia and solid particles that characterized the Big Ditch in my boyhood, I stepped on someone’s pepperoni and they demonstrated their ability to exercise their right to censure that part of of this post. I consider it a violation of my right to express my disgust of the vituperative drivel that nightly spews from the show. It’s still on YouTube, along with similar excerpts from other Ed Shultz’ nightly rants—check ’em out.

And just one more note: I understand now why the network abruptly tossed Keith Olberman out the window—they didn’t need him because they had Ed Shultz.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


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Palin, guns, massacre, Tucson, Ed, Chris, guests, et al . . .

Palin, guns, massacre, Ed, Chris, guests, et al . . .

Okay, let’s see if I have this right:

Immediately following the recent Saturday massacre at a Safeway outlet in Tucson, liberals skewered Sarah Palin for using symbols related to guns and gun use, symbols such as cross-hairs pointing to Democrat incumbents that should be targeted for the recent congressional elections, and for using such terms as don’t retreat, reload and similar gun-related expressions. Radio and television communication airways and publications continued discussing violent  rhetoric around the clock for several days, speculating that it had contributed to the massacre and. They called our attention to the fact that the one-time Alaska governor was “strangely quiet,” and intimated that her silence was an obvious sign that she realized her actions had contributed to the massacre, and that she had no ammunition available to fire back at the attack  being made on her by far left commentators and their guests. Note the italized gun-related terms such as cross-hairs, ammunition and fire back—our language is replete with such terms, and any attempt to relate that to the massacre is not only preposterous—it’s also utterly stupid.

After several days of silence Palin returned fire—see, there I go again with the gun-related terms. She posted an eight-minute video on Facebook, and that effort to explain her position brought a broadside of criticism from the left, a veritable fusilade of bullets fired by left-wing proponents on television, both main stream and cable. Again, note the gun-related terms—they are inherent in our use of the English language—without them we would be stifled in our efforts to communicate, and yet Sarah Palin is pilloried for her use of such terms.

As an aside, I want to point out to MSNBC that its worst commentator—and I mean that term worst in all its definitions—has a section of his nightly presentation called Rapid-Fire. Would you like to explain that reference to gun use, Ed? Would you consider changing that title, Ed? No, I didn’t think so, Ed.

As told by those on the left in political circles, the governor’s biggest mistake in her video was her reference to the term blood libel. Here is what she said on Facebook:

“Journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that only incites the violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.”

I humbly submit that this was the brightest light in her presentation—I consider that a teachable moment, one capable of enlightening our nation’s entire population with a term that has hounded and preyed on the Jewish people for centuries. The term was completely unknown to me, and I am convinced that it was completely unknown to the other 308 million people in the United States—except, of course, by many religious scholars and by the Jewish population in the United States, a group estimated to be somewhere between five million and seven million souls. I’m willing to bet as much as half-a-barrel of pickled anuses that most of the people in that group are quite familiar with the phrase blood libel. Click here for an explanation and history of the term blood libel.

I consider myself to be at least partially educated. In addition to the life experiences I have accumulated during a relatively long life, a life that includes 22 years of military service covering two wars, both of which we lost, and 26 years of service as a federal law enforcement officer. I have been awarded two college diplomas, a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Bachelor of Science degree, each from accredited four-year universities, one in Texas and the other in Nebraska, and each conferred the degree to recognize four full years of study. Much of that study was concentrated on religious thought and history, including Judaism, but the term blood libel was never discussed. I never read it in textbooks and never heard it spoken in classroom discussions, probably because the text books had been purged of the term or the term had never been included.

A certain African-American member of the United States House of Representatives appeared on The Ed Show recently. When the host, Big Ed, asked for his take on Palin’s reference to blood libel, the congressman said this: I have heard it before but I have since studied up on it, undoubtedly in order to better understand it for his appearance on MSNBC. Click here for Ed’s show dated Thursday, January 13, 2011 and the video discussing blood libel. That part begins around the 10-minute marker of the video, so you won’t have to suffer through the first 10 minutes—unless you are an Ed fan and want to suffer through it.

I have serious doubts that the congressman had ever heard of the term until Sarah Palin provided him with a teachable moment, just as she provided one to me. He probably claimed to have known about it in order to save face, just as I would have done had I been asked about it, whether in public or in private—see, I’m honest about  it—I’m never reluctant to say, Hey, that’s a new one on me! I thrive on teachable moments, both receiving and giving.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


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More on wasp spray . . .

I first posted this item in July, 2009. I reposted it in March, 2010 because I felt that it had failed to connect with very many readers. The reposting brought a comment that should be of interest to others. It reproduces the original posting in its entirety, and I must say with all humility that it’s well worth the read. I welcome comments on the original posting, on the reposting, and on this addendum—nay, I urge viewers to make comments, whether positive or negative. Time is a precious and finite resource—time spent on a posting is wasted if a reader neglects to comment on items that consumed some of their time, however brief. A comment should be forthcoming, if for no other reason than to justify spending time on the posting.

This is the viewer’s comment, exactly as received:

My family owns and operates Security Equipment Corporation which manufacturers SABRE pepper sprays. I appreciate that web-sites like this one are sharing proactive safety ideas. That’s very good. However, there is an issue with WASP spray. WASP sprays’ labels state, “It’s a violation of federal law to use in any manner inconsistent with this label. Never Use Indoors!” Police departments worldwide use pepper spray because the inflammatory effects of this agent work on those which cannot feel pain (very important). The inflammatory effects of pepper spray cause eyes to close involuntarily and produce a loss of breath sensation. Pepper spray has been proven effective on deterring and incapacitating aggressive, combative, intoxicated and drug induced individuals for over 20 years.

To date, no human testing has been conducted on WASP spray and it’s a violation of federal law to use in self defense. There are pepper spray options which will deploy up to 25 feet and unlike WASP sprays, these pepper sprays require the user to be less accurate because they will cover an entire doorway. It’s probably not a good idea to use WASP spray for home protection since it is against the law and WASP spray labels themselves state “NEVER USE INDOORS”. Pepper spray is a safe, proven option which is trusted and relied upon by police officers worldwide.

Thanks for reading this.

This is my reply:

Thanks for visiting and thanks for the comment. I’ll pass this information on to my daughter and to my readers. As for wasp spray used for self-defense being a violation of federal law, I opine that one should use anything and everything available to defend one’s self. The use of knives, guns, hammers and baseball bats for self-defense may also be violations of federal law, but they can be highly effective in such instances. And I must add that when one is under attack, it could be quite difficult to determine whether the need for self-defense is lethal or non-lethal—in such instances the doubt must be resolved in favor of the defender—not in favor of the attacker.

An addition to my reply:

In any situation in which my well-being and/or that of my family is threatened, I will depend on something that has a much higher deterrent factor than wasp spray or pepper spray and is effective at a range greater than 25 feet.

That’s my story and that’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to both!


Posted by on June 6, 2010 in Uncategorized


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Meet the family . . .

The purpose of this posting is to continue to record events in my life that my children may have heard about but don’t have many of the details, and to make a matter of record other events of which they have no knowledge—of course it is a given that there are events in my life that I will not discuss. Hey, I’m no different than everyone else—some things are better kept to one’s self, right up to and including the instant that the last breath is exhaled.

I have told my children to never give all of one’s self to another or to anything else, not to work and not to play and perhaps not even to You Know Who—I have told them to always hold something in reserve, something to build on in case everything else collapses. I taught them that if that advice seems like nonsense, disregard the advice—just forget it. And as for giving or not giving your all to You Know Who, I believe that each of us should hold back a bit there also. There will always be time to settle up at the final reckoning.

Come to think of it, I know I gave that advice to one of my daughters, but I’m not sure I rewarded the other two with such sage stuff. Hey, maybe I felt that the one I told was the only one that needed such advice, or perhaps I felt that she was the only one that needed and would heed such advice—oh, well, no matter—I suppose it’s not too late—I can still give that advice to the other two daughters.

How about that such sage stuff I mentioned? I really love alliteration!

One of my three princesses—the second born of my three daughters—the one that lives, loves and works in Virginia—has for many years urged me to submit to a recorded interview that she would conduct and create a digital video recording for her and her two sisters, and I suppose she would insist that it would also to be a record for posterity. Frankly, I can’t imagine why anyone other than my daughters would want such a document. I fact I can’t imagine why they would subject themselves to the torture of seeing me on film—a little bit of me goes a long way!

If I were to make the video and produce 50 copies—one each for my daughters and the additional 47 copies for friends and relatives—I’m sure that most or all of the extra 47 copies would stay on the shelf or wind up in a thrift store. I can count my friends on the fingers of one hand, and most of my relatives are neither in condition nor position to view a DVD. There may be machines and electric receptacles up there—or down there, as the case may be—but I harbor considerable doubt. Besides, I don’t even know 50 people.

My parents and my siblings and all my aunts and uncles on both sides of the family have all departed for greener pastures. At one time I was aware of a gaggle of cousins, likable people of both sexes, but I have no knowledge as to whether even one has survived. Considering the ages of their parents when my cousins were born, the odds are that many, perhaps most, and possibly all have departed, and at least a couple of them departed for warmer climes. My nieces and nephews numbered thirteen at one time. I can account for seven of them, but I have no knowledge of the others as to how many and which ones may be extant.

I begged out of the interview, but I agreed to blog on Word Press in lieu of submitting to a video interview. I began blogging 15 months ago in March of 2009, and as of this date I’ve posted 168 stories, most of which deal with me, my immediate family, my parents and my siblings.

I have only slightly touched on my siblings and their families, and my daughter asked specifically for postings relating to them. My children have only a limited knowledge of my relatives, and according to that busybody in Virginia, all three of them would like to learn more.

This posting is merely an advance notice of my intention to bore—oops, I mean regale—my viewers with stories about my parents, my siblings and other relatives—aunts, uncles and cousins by the dozen. And be warned and beware—I intend to be brutally accurate in my stories—after all, why not? Virtually all—perhaps all—of those I will introduce have already departed this vale of fears and tears for Elysian fields, those fields that in Greek mythology were the final resting place of the souls of the heroic and the virtuous. And as this point, I will state that some of my relatives were heroic and some were virtuous, but very few qualified on both counts, as you will see when I begin posting them.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


Posted by on May 2, 2010 in Uncategorized


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Web worms?—A return to wasp spray and self-defense . . .

This is a repost of my July 30, 2009 posting entitled On wasp spray and self-defense. That posting has languished in total darkness for some nine months, as evidenced by only two votes, although votes of excellence, and zero comments, and in the interests of full disclosure I must admit that I made the two votes of excellence. I am dragging the posting out into the bright glare of today’s Word Press readers in the hope that some will lower their expectations of finding high-brow literature and lower themselves to perusing my puny efforts to educate, advise and entertain.

On self-defense and wasp spray will follow immediately after this timely hint concerning web worms in arboreal gatherings in people’s yards.

Do you have web worms?

Not you, your trees. Do they have web worms?

If so, listen up!

Item #1: Web worms begin life as larvae and from there progress to building their very own webs with the intent of propagating their species.

Item #2: Adult wasps eat web worm larvae.

Those two items combined should not require any additional instructions on how to control web worms. Any reasonably educated and discerning reader would, on reading the two items, know how to eliminate web worms on their property, but just in case one or more are unable to figure it out, I will shout it out:


You have my guarantee, hereby and herein written, that the web worms will disappear.

Now for the repost of my original treatise on wasps, dated 30 July, 2009:

On self-defense and wasp spray . . .

I recently received an e-mail from one of my princess daughters, the one that lives, loves and works in Virginia. The e-mail included a link to an on-line movie that extolled the value of using wasp spray as a defensive weapon, a weapon that used properly might save one’s life. The movie suggests that the attackee spray the solution into the face and eyes of the attacker. Click on the following link to view the movie: movie clip

This is my response to my daughter’s e-mail:

Nice tip, thanks.

I’m going out to buy some wasp spray today. Fan #2 on the patio (counting from the east side of the patio) has (had) a wasp colony inside the motor housing. Brantley turned it on yesterday (the fan) and they swarmed out. A few got clipped with the fan blades while exiting, and to those I administered the coup de grace, which, as you know of course, is a French term meaning “a death blow intended to end the suffering of a wounded creature.” Several more got clipped by the fan blades when, after successfully exiting the fan housing, they attempted to reenter—most met the same fate, but they kept trying—this particular species of wasp seems to be comprised of slow learners.

I dispatched others to wherever dead wasps go by swatting them with a rolled-up copy of the San Antonio Express-News, our one daily source of “news.” The publication has undergone so many changes in size, style and content that I have been forced to find some use for it other than keeping abreast of local, national and worldwide news—the only thing that seems to have remain untouched is its commercial advertising. The publication has a pronounced tilt to the left, similar to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and may eventually topple unless drastic measures are taken (similar to those measures taken to shore-up the Pisa tower).

In days of long ago—in the days now shrouded in the dim mists of history, in the days when outdoor privies ruled—the paper would have taken its rightful place alongside corncobs—yes, corncobs, either red or white or both—and outdated mail-order publications such as Sears, Montgomery-Ward and J.C. Penney catalogs.

Ah, those were the days, my friends.

I believe the survivors (wasps, not newspapers) have migrated to greener pastures, but they may have taken up residence in one of the other fans—we’ll just have to wait and see. These are Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini wasps and may have just hatched out—or they could be part of a pygmy species of wasps. Could be. Maybe.

That’s pure speculation on my part—I didn’t see the Mamas and the Papas anywhere.

Oh, by the way, although the video didn’t cover this part it could be that, in addition to possibly saving one’s life some day, a handy can of wasp spray might some day save one’s birdhouse—it could happen.

No, one’s birdhouse does not refer to any particular body part, or parts, of any bipedal primate in the homo sapien family, neither male nor female. It refers to a type of housing comprised of various materials assembled in various architectural styles, having been constructed with the intention of attracting and sheltering various species of avian creatures whilst they (the birds) go about the important business of procreating their particular species. However, as an afterthought I must confess that if the phrase one’s birdhouse were used to refer to any particular body part, it would probably refer to the female of the species rather than the male.

Note: The word whilst is not misspelled—its spelling is accurate but archaic and is usually restricted to poems. The whilst spelling (and pronunciation) of the word prevails in England, but has pretty well died out in the United States. In my opinion, humble though it may be, whilst is used in the U.S. by persons who also say amongst, unbeknownst and dreampt, all archaic and poetical, and all of which are used purposefully to attract attention—much in the manner of birdhouses.

A prologue to my e-mail:

A colony of yellow jackets (insects, not cheerleaders) established residence in my daughter’s garden birdhouse and one of them, for whatever reason, saw fit to sting her on her aft side, somewhere below the waist and between the hips. The unprovoked attack sent her scrambling into the safety of the house. Because she felt that another attack was highly predictable, she arranged to have the birdhouse consigned, with the yellow jackets extant, to the nearest dumpster. They are probably now feeding voraciously in a local landfill, and may morph into giant yellow jackets and instinctively home-in and return to their previous location.


So, as can readily be seen, had a can of wasp spray been available it might have saved that birdhouse.

And one final thought concerning the possible effectiveness of wasp spray when used as a defense mechanism—if it works on wasps it should be just as effective when used on any attacker, whether the attacker is a a yellow jacket, a wasp, a WASP or any other person, regardless of color, national heritage or religious preference.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


Posted by on March 29, 2010 in education, Humor, Writing


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Cowpies and Chinaberries—a 1942 video game

Cowpies and Chinaberries—a 1942 video game:

FROM WIKIPEDIA: The fruit of a Chinaberry tree is a berrylike, round fleshy fruit. It continues through winter and contains a stone with one to six seeds inside. The berries are yellowish green turning to yellowish tan.

On color I am somewhat in disagreement with Wikipedia—a full grown Chinaberry is very hard and green—not yellowish green, but green green—I should know, because I have a close association with Chinaberries—a history, so to speak. I agree that the berry turns yellowish while still on the tree and softens with age, and predictably, with that softening it becomes ineligible for Chinaberry pitching. On further thought, it’s been years since I’ve seen a Chinaberry, so it may be that today’s berries are in fact yellowish green, perhaps due to global warming caused by Al Gore.

As a young boy I lived with my family—mother, sister and stepfather—for several months near a railroad stockyard for animals. I lived near the stockyard at two widely separated times in different rental houses for several months each time. Shipments of cows and horses were held in the stockyards for a brief time waiting for transportation by rail to some destination, whether to auction, to pasture or to slaughterhouses. The holding pens were fenced with steel posts and pipes rather than wooden posts and railings, and the top pipe, or rail, of the enclosure was the perch on which Chinaberry-pitching contestants sat for the competitions.

A special note: When I googled the word stockyard, I was rewarded by the image on the right. It does not seem to be related to stockyards in any way, but I decided to share it—go figure!

Having arrived at the pen with pockets filled with Chinaberries, a contestant could choose to stand on a lower rail and pitch, but was then constrained to lean forward over the rail for balance, or hold on with one hand while pitching with the other. For most contestants, that stance proved to be a distraction. The more effective pitches were launched while straddling the top rail at a right angle to the target, or while seated facing the target. The latter position was, for obvious reasons, far more comfortable than the straddle.

Multiple contestants were not necessary. I can remember many hours of competing against myself—yep, I was always the winner, never a loser, in such contests—that’s just the way the game worked. That’s the way I believe life should work but, as opposed to Chinaberry pitching, I don’t always get my way.

Our targets were cowpies. A definition of the term is probably unnecessary, but I’ll define it anyway. Cowpie is a euphemism for the fecal matter excreted by a bovine animal, whether male or female, and on that note one must needs witness the excretion to determine the animal’s gender—the sex of the bovine cannot be determined by the nature of the cowpie—diet and approximate age and size, perhaps, but not gender—not even by the most knowledgeable rancher, veterinarian or Chinaberry pitcher.

There are various other euphemisms  for bovine excrement. They include terns such as cow flop, cow plop (from the sound of hitting the ground), cow hockey, cow dung, cow stuff and some terms that are not readily accepted in mixed company or in the presence of one’s parents. As an aside, a bovine sometimes continues its forward motion while “going to the bathroom.” This produces a trail of cow flops, or plops, that decrease in size as the motion progresses. Counting the separate flops was routine by country boys—the trail with the greatest number of flops won any bet that was waged. In any game of Chinaberry pitching, accurate hits that stuck to the small ones counted more than hits on the larger ones.

Overhand pitches thrown on a level trajectory may have been accurate, but the ability of the berry to stick to the target was minimal, and did not get the job done. The missile had to come down on the target as close to a ninety degree angle as possible. The berry was held delicately between thumb and forefinger and the hand drawn back toward the shoulder, lining up the berry with the target, squinting with one eye and sighting with the other, just as a firearm is aimed by a marksman, then propelled upward and outward to produce an arc that would enable the missile to drop downward onto the target. The farther away the target, the farther back the hand was drawn in order to provide the necessary momentum. This procedure was variously called a pitch, toss or throw.

Part of the scoring included the distance from the point of release to the target—distance was necessarily an estimated figure—as one might imagine, walking to measure the distance was somewhat perilous, especially if one had just come from church and was wearing one’s Sunday shoes—you know, the ones in brown and white with long laces that, unless carefully tied, sometimes dragged along the ground when one walked. And in the rush to claim the greater distance, a misstep was not only possible—it was highly probable—bummer!

The sport of Chinaberry pitching required considerable finesse, comparable to the sport of darts but far more challenging. The ultimate skill one could demonstrate was to nestle the berry on a thumbnail with the tip of the nail placed at the junction of the first joint of the forefinger at the halfway point, then snapping the thumb up to propel the missile towards its target—this was called a “flip.” Since the berry was traveling at a greater speed than the overhand throw, more altitude had to be factored into its trajectory to provide the proper angle to allow the berry to drop nearer to the perfect ninety degree angle. Following release of the Chinaberry, the thumb would be straight up and the forefinger would be pointed straight at the target—at this juncture most contestants vocally reproduced the sound of a firearm, something such as pow or bam. Well, not always vocally—these were boys, and as they say, boys will be boys! In either case the intent was to irritate and distract one’s competitors—the louder the better, particularly in instances of non-vocal sound reproduction.

One’s position on the top rail was important, whether in a straddle or seated facing the targets. the right angle was the safest position, but the face-forward with both feet on the same side had much to recommend it, although in the heat of competition the possibility of falling backward was more pronounced.

And here I hasten to add that horses have nothing to contribute to the game of Chinaberry pitching—without going too far into detail, I’ll just say that it doesn’t work, and anyone familiar with the difference in cow dung and horse dung  will understand (we referred to the horse dung as road apples). The horse provides a target for Chinaberries, of course, but a hit, however expertly aimed and accurate, bounces off and leaves nothing to prove the accuracy of the hit—unless ones opponent happens to see the hit when it occurs. Conversely, the cow plop clings to the evidence—or vice versa—and the accuracy of the toss, or flip, can neither be denied nor overlooked.

In 1942, Chinaberry pitching was the closest thing we boys had to today’s video games. I specify boys, because I have no recollection of any girls having shown even the slightest interest in the game, neither in Chinaberries, stockyards or cowpies. Bummer!

And in order to close this posting, I’ll quote that immortal couple Archie and Edith Bunker of television situation comedy fame with the title of their signature song, “Those were the days!”

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


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