Lost And Found

Some people can handle electronic communication.  Most people can’t even handle reality.  I notice, among those blogs I read, that some folks are connected just about every way there is to be connected.  Besides the blog, there is Facebook, and Pinterest, and Stumbledupon, and, and….you know who you are, and all the ways you have for others to feed your egos.

Every day there are more videos of inattentive fools walking into fountains, and light poles and each other.  I watched one walk off the edge of a train platform yesterday.  He really smashed his left knee on the edge of the platform, and then banged his shoulder and head on the steel rail.  Ontario has passed a law prohibiting the use of handheld electronic devices by the driver of a vehicle.

The Mayor of Toronto was photographed reading a document while driving to work.  A newspaper columnist asked if it was not illegal to take a picture of him while driving, but it could well have been a passenger who did so.  There was a small plane crash in British Columbia, which killed the pilot who was thankfully, the sole occupant.  The best guess for a cause was that he was texting while flying.  “Hey, Bob, do clouds have lumps in them?  IMHO LMFAO LOL WTF?”  Splat!

The Region of Waterloo and the twin cities of Kitchener and Waterloo are proceeding with light-rail transit.  This was started a few years ago, when both the local and world economies were in much better shape.  Despite the economic down-turn, they are determined to forge ahead.

We will get our own tax money back from the Provincial and Federal governments to cover about two-thirds of the projected cost, and be responsible for the balance ourselves directly.  We are told that it will cost nine hundred thousand dollars, so the local taxpayers will have to pay three hundred grand, but what government project ever came in, even close to budget?  My bet is that it will run a billion and a quarter, and taxes will rise.

We were also told at the beginning, that this was to provide needed transportation upgrades, but independent studies have proved that to be a lie.  Politicians lying to us??!  I’m appalled!!  They have finally admitted that this is a scheme to improve the city cores.  Old stores have been converted to condos downtown.  We convinced two departments of the big community college to build near the city hall, and an old tannery building has been converted to high-tech offices, including a local Google branch.  All very nice, but it’s going to cost!

The city has been busy trying to expropriate bits of land for right-of-ways, and stations.  They wanted to hack the front off one property for road widening, and found that the city already owned the strip in question.  Further to the south, they took bits off several properties, until they came to one particular piece.  They only needed an inches-wide strip, just over a square yard off this narrow property.  Found, one un-claimed piece of land!  Lost, the legal owner!

A century ago, a business-man and his wife established and owned a well-known local soft-drink company.  At that time, it was way out past the edge of the city.  Now, of course, it’s well within city boundaries, and right where they want to run the street-railroad.  The plant is long since torn down and the property sold.  This narrow lot may have been part of the land their home sat on, but it was never sold.  The newspaper article says, “It doesn’t even have an address.  It sits between 530 and 534.”  Then, wouldn’t it be number 532?  What it doesn’t have, is a building with a visible number on it.

The plant was sold in 1944, and the newspaper says there has been no commercial activity for that location for 68 years, no sales, no purchases, no leases, no building permits.  Does anybody notice what I noticed?  No tax notices mailed, no taxes paid and nobody asking why not.  The longer it lasts, the deeper it gets buried.  Did no-one, in sixty-eight years, think to ask about it?

The only son and his wife are both long dead, and childless.  The city is asking the public’s help in locating any possible heirs.  The two adjoining properties don’t accrue ownership, but may have acquired easement rights.  Oh!  This one is going to be a long, complicated and expensive problem, all for a couple of inches off the front.  Why not just seize it for unpaid back taxes?

The city is receiving assistance from a local historian named rych mills.  That’s pronounced Rich and, like k. d. lang, he doesn’t capitalize his artsy name.  The paper has told us in previous articles where he was involved, that he doesn’t capitalize his name….and then they capitalize it in the articles.

The section of town where this property is, is our skid row, populated by hookers, drug dealers and users, three tattoo parlors and a methadone clinic.  I can understand the city hoping to improve it, but, will it just move the problem somewhere else?  Is anyone else old enough to have seen the Jack Lemmon movie, Days of Wine and Roses?  His girlfriend lives in a terrible New York tenement apartment, infested with cockroaches.  He bug-bombs the apartment, to drive them out, and almost gets attacked by the residents of neighboring apartments where he drives the bugs.

Tony And Stuff

My buddy Tony sent me another email which included the following warning.  I felt it was worth passing on, so read it and don’t weep.

WARNING FROM POLICE

This is the new thing these days with people out of work and needing cash. Beware, it’s headed our way.

Warning..!!!! Warning..!!!! Warning..!!!!

Just last weekend on Friday night we parked in a public parking area. As we drove away I noticed a sticker on the rear window of the car. When I took it off after I got home, it was a receipt for gas.. Luckily my friend told me not to stop as it could be someone waiting for me to get out of the car.. Then we received this email yesterday:

WARNING FROM POLICE

THIS APPLIES TO BOTH WOMEN AND MEN

BEWARE OF PAPER ON THE BACK WINDOW OF YOUR VEHICLE–NEW WAY TO DO CARJACKINGS (NOT A JOKE)

Heads up everyone! Please, keep this circulating… You walk across the parking lot, unlock your car and get inside. You start the engine and shift into reverse.

When you look into the rearview mirror to back out of your parking space, you notice a piece of paper stuck to the middle of the rear window. So, you shift into Park, unlock your doors, and jump out of your car to remove that paper (or whatever it is) that is obstructing your view. When you reach the back of your car, that is when the carjackers appear out of nowhere, jump into your car and take off.

I met another duh-mb checkout clerk the other day.  Perhaps I should find a more politically-correct way to describe these people.  Folks we used to label as retarded are now special.   Disabled people want to be called differently-abled. I remember Dana Carvey as The Church Lady, on SNL, “Isn’t that special?”  “Dis” means not, opposed to, or reverse of.  If an Olympic pole-vaulter can leap 19 feet, and I can only clear 14, that’s differentlyabled.  If you roll up to the pit in your wheel-chair, that’s disabled.

Damn!  Did I mention the Olympics?  I had my eyes closed.  Is it over?  Let’s see, there were 53 events, and 203 countries who didn’t get a gold medal.  That’s an impressive pile of 1219 losers.  Does everybody feel good now?

We drink iced tea like other families drink….other stuff.  Three adults go through just over two liters/Am. quarts per day.  We buy the powder, two or three large cans at a time.  We used to buy the Nestle brand, until a co-worker assured me that one of the supermarkets’ house brand was just as good, at just over half the price.

I went a mile north last week to a plaza with a Dollar Store.  While I was there, I picked up several items at the Food Basics store.  When I looked for their brand of iced tea powder, there was none.  I thought nothing of it.  Different stores carry, or not, different items, based on neighborhood buying patterns.

The next day I went a mile south, to the Food Basics store I usually go to, and found that they also had no large containers of iced tea powder.  I took one small can to tide us over, but it was not as affordable.  I kept my eye out for any male staff, dressed in black.  They are the managers, etc.  I didn’t see any by the time I was ready to check out, so, after I had paid, I asked the girl, “Is there anybody I could speak to about availability of your iced tea powder?”

She snatched up the intercom phone and paged Chris to call 203.  It didn’t feel right already, so I said, “Where is he?  I’ll go speak to him.”  The intercom buzzed, she picked it up and said, “Hey Chris, where’s the iced tea powder?”, and then turned to me, and said, “It’s in aisle three.”  I just checked a can out.  I know that much.  I insisted that it wasn’t, and she got all defensive and said, “Well, that’s what you asked.”  No I didn’t.  I very precisely asked if there was someone I could speak to about availability, not store location, if and when you have it.  She’s probably not dumb, just busy.  People see and hear what they expect to see and hear.  Availability is unusual.  Most people ask about location.

She paged Chris-the-blackshirt again.  He came to the front and explained that their supplier was doing a re-labelling, and all sizes might be off the shelf for up to a month.  Couldn’t they keep producing old-labelled stock until the new packaging was ready, to prevent customer loss and complaints?  Now I’ll have to figure out what the new packaging looks like.  I’ll have to grab a few more of the small cans to get us through, or try the store brand at the nearby Great Canadian Super Store – which isn’t a Zehrs market anymore, nor a Loblaw’s, who bought them out.

Chili Cook-off

For those of you who have lived in Texas, you know how TRUE this is! They actually have a chili cook-off about the time the rodeo comes to town. It takes up a major portion of the parking lot at the Astrodome!

Grab a tissue, this is hilarious.

Notes From An Inexperienced Chili Taster Named FRANK, who was visiting Texas from the East Coast: “Recently I was honored to be selected as a judge at a chili cook-off. The original person called in sick at the last moment and I happened to be standing there at the judge’s table asking directions to the beer wagon when the call came. I was assured by the other two judges (Native Texans) that the chili wouldn’t be all that spicy, and besides, they told me I could have free beer during the tasting, so I accepted. Here are the scorecards from the event:

Chili # 1: Mike’s Maniac Mobster Monster Chili

JUDGE ONE: A little too heavy on tomato. Amusing kick.

JUDGE TWO: Nice, smooth tomato flavor. Very mild.

FRANK: Holy shit, what the hell is this stuff? You could remove dried paint from your driveway. Took me two beers to put the flames out. I hope that’s the worst one. These Texans are crazy.

Chili # 2: Arthur’s Afterburner Chili

JUDGE ONE: Smoky, with a hint of pork. Slight Jalapeno tang.

JUDGE TWO: Exciting BBQ flavor, needs more peppers to be taken seriously.

FRANK: Keep this out of reach of children! I’m not sure what I am supposed to taste besides pain. I had to wave off two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich maneuver. They had to rush in more beer when they saw the look on my face.

Chili # 3: Fred’s Famous Burn-Down-the-Barn Chili

JUDGE ONE: Excellent firehouse chili! Great kick. Needs more beans.

JUDGE TWO: A bean less chili, a bit salty, good use of red peppers.

FRANK: Call the EPA!! I’ve located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I have been snorting Drano. Everyone knows the routine by now; get me more beer before I ignite. The Barmaid pounded me on the back; now my backbone is in the front part of my chest. I’m getting shit-faced from all the beer.

Chili # 4: Bubba’s Black Magic

JUDGE ONE: Black bean chili with almost no spice. Disappointing.

JUDGE TWO: Hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for fish or other mild foods, not much of a chili.

FRANK: I felt something scraping across my tongue, but was unable to taste it, is it possible to burn-out taste buds? Sally, the barmaid, was standing behind me with fresh refills; that 300 lb. bitch is starting to look HOT, just like this nuclear waste I’m eating. Is chili an aphrodisiac?

Chili # 5: Linda’s Legal Lip Remover

JUDGE ONE: Meaty, strong chili. Cayenne peppers freshly ground, adding considerable kick. Very impressive.

JUDGE TWO: Chili using shredded beef; could use more tomato. Must admit the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.

FRANK: My ears are ringing, sweat is pouring off my forehead and I can no longer focus my eyes. I farted and four people behind me needed paramedics. The contestant seemed offended when I told her that her chili had given me brain damage. Sally saved my tongue from bleeding by pouring beer directly on it from a pitcher. I wonder if I’m burning my lips off? It really pisses me off that the other judges asked me to stop screaming. Screw those rednecks!

Chili # 6: Vera’s Very Vegetarian Variety

JUDGE ONE: Thin yet bold vegetarian variety chili. Good balance of spice and peppers.

JUDGE TWO: The best yet. Aggressive use of peppers, onions, and garlic. Superb.

FRANK: My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous, sulfuric flames. I shit myself when I farted and I’m worried it will eat through the chair. No one seems inclined to stand behind me except that slut Sally; she must be kinkier than I thought. Can’t feel my lips anymore. I need to wipe my ass with a snow cone!

Chili # 7: Susan’s Screaming Sensation Chili

JUDGE ONE: A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers.

JUDGE TWO: Ho Hum, tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can of chili peppers at the last moment. I should note that I am worried about Judge Number 3. He appears to be in a bit of distress as he is cursing uncontrollably.

FRANK: You could put a grenade in my mouth, pull the pin, and I wouldn’t feel a damn thing. I’ve lost the sight in one eye, and the world sounds like it is made of rushing water. My shirt is covered with chili, which slid unnoticed out of my mouth. My pants are full of lava-like shit to match my damn shirt. At least during the autopsy they’ll know what killed me. I’ve decided to stop breathing, it’s too painful. Screw it, I’m not getting any oxygen anyway. If I need air, I’ll just suck it in through the 4-inch hole in my stomach.

Chili # 8: Helen’s Mount Saint Chili

JUDGE ONE: A perfect ending, this is a nice blend chili, safe for all, not too bold but spicy enough to declare its existence.
JUDGE TWO: This final entry is a good, balanced chili, neither mild nor hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge Number 3 passed out, fell over and pulled the chili pot down on top of himself. Not sure if he’s going to make it. Poor Yankee, wonder how he’d have reacted to a really hot chili?
FRANK: ————–(editor’s note: Judge #3 was unable to report.

If you can even see the keyboard to type a comment after that one, you’re a better man that I am, even if you’re a woman.  I would love to give credit to whoever fabricated that piece of genius, but sadly it came to me unattributed.

It’s Chili Inside

All right, I warned you I was gonna pass out my recipe for chili.  You can try it and pass out later.

We never had chili when I was a kid.  We lived too far north to even hear of it.  Didn’t know what chili powder was.  My Mom’s spice rack had salt and pepper.  Ketchup was adventurous, although just after the ice-age, we called it catsup.  We were one of the first, daring families in our town to try Chef Boy-Ar-Dee’s boxed pizza mix.  We didn’t have a pizza tin, so we made it on a 9 X 13 cookie tray.  Perforce, it was a thin-crust pizza.  I learned to add a bit of flour to increase the crust, and add barbecue sauce or tomato juice to the kit’s little can of pizza sauce.  I grated extra cheddar for the top, but my mom couldn’t tell me what was in the spice mixture.  The wife has two racks, with 36 spices, and 24 herbs

Chili is a poor family’s meal.  Chili con carne means with meat, and is a small step up.  Often people saved money by adding things to the basic recipe, to stretch it, to feed more kids.  My wife’s family had nine kids.  They needed to stretch it as far as they could.

Basic chili con carne has meat, tomatoes, beans and chili powder.  After that, you can be as creative as you want.  Normally, the con carne means ground beef, but you can use ground pork, ground turkey – dark meat or light.  You can put in steak chunks if you can afford it.  The wife’s family’s recipe is below, complete with secret ingredient.  With lots of exceptions, women are often, merely cooks, following recipes, and men are the more creative chef types.  What I’m saying is, don’t get hung up on how many grains of salt.  Find out what works for you and your family, and go with it.

List Of Ingredients

1 to 1 ½ lbs lean ground beef

1 large cooking onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon chopped/grated garlic, fresh pressed or bottled – more, or less, to taste

1 – 29 oz. Can diced tomatoes

1 – 19 oz. Can red kidney beans

1 – 12 oz. Can Chili-style beans – Optional – if available, or any type of baked beans

1 – 10 oz. Can mushroom stems and pieces – optional

2  tablespoons chili powder – more, or less, to taste

Tabasco sauce, or equivalent, optional, know your eaters’ tastes and limits

Secret Ingredient/Chili Extender – leftover spaghetti, chopped to 1 to 2 inch pieces.  Adds a bit more meat and tomato flavor, as well as cheap carbs.  Strictly optional.

 

Preparation/Cooking Instructions

Basic instruction, Stir, stir, stir.  This is a thick soup/stew.

Chop onion fine

Add onion and garlic, salt and pepper to ground meat in large pot.  Break meat up fine and mix with onion/garlic.   Cook till done and liquid is driven off.  Add tomatoes.  Bring back to light boil.  Add kidney beans, bring back to heat.  Add chili-style or baked beans, bring back to heat.  Add mushrooms, if desired, and chopped, cooked spaghetti, a double handful, or as far as you want to stretch it, bring back to heat.  I add 6 or 7 drops of Tabasco.  BrainRants would use Sriracha.  Your tongue may differ.  Add desired amount of chili powder and stir well. Total preparation time to this point, including chopping onion and garlic, 45 minutes.  Turn heat to minimum and allow to meld.  Stir occasionally.  A half hour to hour allows flavors to blend.  You can add small chunks of cheddar, Monterey Jack, or other cheese to go con queso, stir in, or serve separately.  Serve with saltine crackers, nacho-style chips, or toast.  Serves four to five hungry men, or an entire church social.

I had a hilarious story about super-hot Texas Chili that I was going to include, but I’ve rambled on too long with this cooking show, and I can’t seem to find it in the computer files.  What I think I’ll do is wait a couple of days, until you are allowed back in the house after all these beans, and then post the chili story as a follow-up, when I can find it.  Happy eating.

Attawapiskat

The title of this post is a Cree Indian word meaning, “If white man and red man co-operate, we can really f**k things up!”  Attawapiskat is really the name of an Indian reservation on the western shore of James Bay, in Northern Ontario.  It’s so far north, you can barely see The Harem Master’s back door.

In colonial times things were often done that we are now not proud of, nor happy with the results.  The white men gathered all the Indians, who had made a subsistence living from hunting and fishing, and said, “In return for stealing all your land, you have to live on this reservation, but we will take care of you.”  For over a hundred years the government has thrown money at them, actually, a lot of money, but last year we found that sending money wasn’t the same as *taking care of them*.

Stories leaked to the press about Indians living in squalor, in moldy shacks, and tents, up where temperatures can get down to minus forty.  It doesn’t matter whether Celsius or Fahrenheit, at that level, they’re the same thing.  The white men stuck them on swampy ground.  They have no reliable water supply.  They have no sewage system.  People, especially children, are getting sick from contaminated water.

This is a little town of less than 2000 people.  White men taught the Indians how to live in a town like the white men do.  White men gave them money to support themselves, but white men didn’t teach them how to manage the money.  This is like Jeff Foxworthy talking about giving money to rednecks.  You just know that they’re going to buy a fancy belt-buckle, and an Elvis, Jack Daniels decanter.

In the five years from 2006 to 2011, the Federal Government gave ninety million dollars to the band.  Besides that income, they are receiving royalties from the recently opened Canadian diamond mines, so why are so many living in crappy conditions?  The government has tied its own hands.  All monies are paid to the band, and the government is forced to remain at arm’s length, and cannot tell them how to administrate it.

This town of 2000 has three chiefs, or mayors, each earning $100,000/year.  The tiny town has 18 councillors, each earning (well, let’s say receiving) $90,000/year, as well as other well-paid bureaucrats.  It’s unknown how many are in it, but the school board is also fully paid.  There’s a funny story about the school board.  The school also was full of mould, and derelict, so it was pulled down….and replaced with an arena.  And, now that they’ve got a new arena, they bought a Resurfice ice-machine, made in nearby Elmira, for it.  With all the extras, this machine cost $96,089.55, but it cost almost that much again, to have it shipped north.  It got trucked to Cochrane, sent by train to Moosonee, and sent by barge to the town.  The band already has a 1997 model in the arena they now plan to pull down.  They claim that income from bingo games paid for the new machine, more government money from a Southern Ontario casino paid to get it to Moosonee, and the barge company hauled it for free.

Despite the outrageous shipping-included costs of everything, these people are status Indians.  They pay no taxes, no income tax, no sales tax!  Their $100,000/yr. is like our $200,000/yr.  Other than the few local streets, they are two hundred miles from the nearest road, and yet there are a number of beautiful big sport-utes in evidence.  $40,000 to buy and $50,000 to ship, and gasoline at $4/liter to run them.  The government sent an investigator north to have a look at the situation, but he was perceived as a white man, interfering in Indian affairs, and was forced to leave.  He reported what little he found to a Federal judge, who finally ruled that there were no financial improprieties.

People were outraged; surely there are improprieties – but it’s the hands-off regulation again.  Within their community, they are allowed to make their own rules.  If they want to select three chiefs, if they want to pay them, and the bureaucrats, and the school board, if they want to tear down the school and put up an arena c/w brand-new ice machine, that’s their business.

I wrote recently about a man who asked if it was moral to kill pigs, just so that we could eat bacon.  Here is another place where it seems to be a good idea to ask the question, “Is it moral to revise the statute, so that the government can step in and take care of those who cannot take care of themselves and those they are responsible for?”  It’s the thin edge of the wedge.  I don’t trust white bureaucrats any more than Indians do.  President Ronald Reagan said the most dangerous words were, “I’m from the government.  I’m here to help.”  And yet, can we stand by and do nothing?

This situation spills over into other social areas.  Charities say that they are having increased trouble collecting funds for worthy causes.  Canada sent $25 million to Haiti after the earthquake and still the people have no homes, no food, no safe source of water.  What we do see is even more politicians driving Cadillac Escalades past the shanty-towns.  What we see is Somali war-lords taking Red Cross food before it reaches the people who need it.  I feel extremely sorry for the northern Cree, the common Haitians and the poverty-stricken Somalis, but why should I donate, when I see that my money will not help those in need?

It took several hundred years in England and Europe to establish the concepts of social equality and concern for others.  We can only hope that other sections of the world learn faster.  The Canadian troops have returned from Afghanistan.  BrainRants is still there with folks who are trying to teach them better manners, but it’s a long road.  We can’t even get rid of three petty warlords chiefs in Ontario, how can we change the entire middle-east?  Far too many outside North America think in hierarchies, first me, then my family, then my clan, then my village, then my valley.  Equality, democracy and concern for others are a long way down the scale.  It’s sad, but it’s a fact of global life, that we can only hope and try to change.

A Gored Ox

I recently read yet another story illustrating the assumption of rightness and privilege, and the prevention of thinking by religious fundamentalists, Christians mostly, in the United States.  Two young men, one twenty-three, and the other, twenty-five, had been enrolled in the University of Tennessee.  Each had become derailed by booze and drugs, and had dropped out.  Each of them had turned their life around, with the help of friends and family, but, by themselves.  The very fact of their addiction was proof to the Godly, of their allegiance to Satan, especially when it became known that they were both atheists.  Their rehabilitation was ignored.

They both re-enrolled in university and were doing well.  As study material for a Civics course, they went to observe sessions of the State Legislature.  In direct contravention of a law, passed by an earlier Legislature, there was a pre-session prayer to “God, and Jesus”.  They filled out the necessary form, and waited to ask a question of the floor.

When it came their turn, they suggested that the group refrain from breaking the law, and do away with the opening Christian prayer.  Half the legislators merely laughed and ignored their legal request.  The opinions of the other half ranged up to having them ridden out of town on a rail.  Their signed form is a legal document and is supposed to be placed on file, but nobody seems to know just what happened to it.

They said they knew going in, that nothing is ever accomplished via the request form, but procedure must be followed.  They found a lawyer, and, funded by an atheist group, he took their case and sued the Legislature.  They say that they were surprised by the amount of support for their cause, including from some “good Christians.”  Without the facility for objective thinking, it is almost impossible to see a problem from the inside.

Some incensed citizens have said that there will be a huge bang, when they hit the bottom of hell.  Here’s where some of the lack of thought starts.  If, as accused, they are doing the Devil’s work, wouldn’t they be welcomed to Hell and given a union steward’s position?  The ironic point is that, if they don’t believe in God, they don’t believe in a Satan, to work for.

All they requested was that there be a minute of silence, so that each person present could communicate with their personal Deity, in their prescribed manner.  The law states that, either there be no prayer, or a vague, non-denominational offering be given.  They want the law of the land, and the rules of the Bible, to be obeyed.  In the Bible, Christ said, Even as ye have done unto these, the least of my brothers, ye have done unto me.  In regards to the law, Christ also said, Render unto Caesar, that which is Caesar’s.  Apparently even Caesar is too preoccupied with privilege, to render.

The Bible-belt Christians’ ox has been gored, and they have come roaring back, as usual with great passion but absolutely no thought.  Someone has had the temerity to challenge their position of privilege, and By God, we’re not going to take it, no matter what the law says.  One of the boys says that most of his family, at least accepts what he is doing, but his grandma is so disappointed by what she believes is occurring, that she won’t even speak to him.  He finds it ironically amusing that she always insisted that he obey all laws, not be selfish and think of others.

Karl Marx said that religion is the opiate of the masses.  When Jesse, The Body, Ventura was governor of Minnesota, he learned the difference between truth and tact.  He paraphrased, and said that Christianity is the refuge of weak-minded, weak-willed people who can’t think for themselves.  He got shat on, in great volume, and from a great height, by his constituents, not necessarily because he was wrong, but because the faithful don’t like to be reminded of their failings.

There is a story about an Arab whose camel sticks his nose in the tent to get it warm, and the Bedouin does nothing about it.  Then the camel sticks his whole head in, then his shoulders, then his chest, and each time the Arab does not force him back out.  Soon, the entire camel is inside the tent, and the Arab is forced out into the cold.  This is akin to what the fundamentalist Christians are doing now.

If someone tries to shoo the religious camel back out of the tent, the hyper-Christians claim they’ve lived there all along, and they have the right to stay.  They make the unsupported claim that the country was founded, “on Christian Principles.”  Most of the Founding Fathers, who could think strongly and clearly enough, to midwife a new nation into existence, could be described as Secular Humanists.  Even those who were good Christians, were wise enough to see the advisability of separation of Church and State.

Someone recently tried to have the two words, “under God” removed from the pledge of allegiance.  Immediately, the thumpers were all over it, claiming that the phrase was, “always there”.  It meant nothing to them that the “Good Christian” president, Dwight Eisenhower violated the Constitution, and had it inserted as recently as 1958.  The same thing is happening with the phrase, “In God we trust,” on coins and bills.  It’s not that there is anything particularly wrong with these words; it’s just the insistence by the fundamentalists that they are infallibly correct and no-one else should have the right to express a contrary opinion.

It’s a good thing that there are a few Secularists, confrontational and vocal enough to gore a few of these sacred oxen, to demonstrate that people other than Christians have legal, social and political rights, even if it’s just the right to be left alone.

Children Of A Lesser….God!

My headstrong sister married extremely young.  Threatening my mother that, if not allowed to wed, she’d just go get pregnant, she had not had her 16th birthday when she said “I Do”.  Small, like my mother, she was just five feet tall, and barely a hundred pounds.  She immediately started popping out babies, dropping five kids in under eight years, the last of which was a 13 pound, 9 ounce Butterball that solved her fertility problem.  It also set a record for the largest baby ever delivered in the local hospital, a record that stood for twenty years, until an Indian woman, twice her size, had one 14 lb., 1 oz.

Her kids came, boy, girl, girl, girl, boy.  She came to know and be friends with another local girl who got married about the same time, but at a more reasonable age.  She also had five kids, at just about the same times my sister did, but she had boy, boy, boy, boy, boy!  In a fit of creative imagination, she named them Derek, Douglas, David, Duane and Darcy.

Snide comments went around town that someone had ripped up a baby-names book and one page, the one with names that started with D, had blown into her yard.  At least her name didn’t start with D.  She’s a piker compared to Mother Kardashian.  Starting with her own K-name, Kris, she had girls with the famous lawyer, and named them Kim, Khloe, Kourtney, Kremlin and Katarrh.  Then she married Bruce Jenner, and inflicted Kylie and Kendall on the world.  Come on woman, there are 25 other letters in the alphabet.

My sister was far too self-involved, and far too young to be a good mother.  She wanted to be an Earth-mother, hippie, party-girl.  The kids soon learned to rely on themselves and each other.  With next to no supervision, especially early in the day, things happened which made the rest of us wonder how they ever lived to grow up.

When the two younger girls were about 6 and 5, they each drank about a cup of Javex.  Off to the hospital to have stomachs pumped and charcoal treatment.  Too young to explain why they drank Javex, it was thought that partly full glasses of liquor and beer from last night’s party, that they saw adults drinking from, might have been the impetus.  That could explain getting past the smell and horrid taste.

A year later, the younger one, now all of six, decided to drink another cup of Javex again.  One would think that the memory of getting a stomach pumped would stay with even the dumbest child, but apparently not.  Because of all the pregnancies, the sister had constipation problems.  One day she went to the pharmacy and got a 36-piece block of chocolate-coated Ex-Lax.  To keep it out of children’s hands, she stood on a chair, climbed onto the kitchen counter and put it on the eight-foot-high top shelf.  Little jugs have big ears….and keen sight.  The next day, the same pair of tiny geniuses, pulled out four drawers, like stairs, climbed the shelves like a ladder, and ate 18 pieces of Ex-Lax each.  Warm up the stomach-pump again Doc, we’ll be there in a minute!

The rear entrance went down seven steps from the kitchen to a coat-closet landing, then out the back door to a tiny porch, and down two more stairs.  The porch had no railing and five kids and three dogs often just jumped off.  In the days of home delivery of milk in glass bottles, that’s where the empties were left.  It was not unusual to have a pile of broken glass beneath the porch edge.  One day, the oldest daughter, all of about 10, came skipping out and bounced off the porch, catching the toes of both feet on the edge.  Down she went, knees-first into a pool of broken glass.  The doctor put in almost 100 stitches in the two legs, and marveled that no ligaments were severed and the niece would still walk.

With great planning and forethought the sister often realized at 4:45 P.M. that she had nothing for supper.  She would pile the kids in the car and race downtown to get something from the store.  She always put my oldest nephew in the back seat, behind her.  They lived in the company house, off the back of the employee parking lot.  Always an aggressive driver, she would race the hundred yards to the highway, which she had a clear view of.  If there were no cars close, she would hang a hard right, at up to 30 MPH.

Before seatbelts, the problem was that the back left door on the junker they drove, would not latch.  The lock button had to be pushed to ensure the door stayed closed.  At least three times she forgot to lock it, and at least three times, the door popped open and the 8/9 year-old nephew flew out, rolling across in front of oncoming highway traffic, and ended up in the ditch on the far side of the road.  She’d stop, pick him up, brush dust off, stick him back in the car, and do the same thing six months later.

Two things my sister never did were, keep booze away from the kids, and take the keys out of her car.  For a while, after he got his licence, the older nephew would knock some back and, in a feat of good planning, he would borrow his mother’s car.  One time, he made it almost a block down the side road before a power pole jumped out in front of him, and he totalled both it and the car.  He walked home, fell asleep and didn’t remember when his mom asked him where her car was.

Another time, he was a couple of miles down the beach road when he and a carload of friends fell into a ditch and hit a concrete culvert, totalling a second car.  A year later, almost 19, and at least sober, he took a bunch of friends for a ride.  Travelling way too fast on a twisty road, he pulled out to pass a car he thought was going too slow.  At his speed, he’d have made it, except for the guy who pulled out of a driveway ahead, on his left, and headed straight toward him.  They both swerved toward the same shallow ditch, and the head-on collision didn’t block the highway.  It did, however, break both thumbs of the Air Canada pilot in the other car.

I’ve blogged about a cartoon character named Joe Bfytzplk, who had a permanent little cloud over his head.  These kids and their exploits (?) were almost enough to get me to believe in guardian angels.